interview

A Mother’s Day Interview with Dale Young

Mom enjoying a water slide

There wouldn’t be a HeSo without a Mama Heso. On this fine Sunday morning, when mother’s are given just an iota of the appreciation they deserve, I would like to introduce my amazing mom. She has inspired me with her passion and drive in the arts and in business. She is incredibly supportive and intelligent. One of the things I love most about her is that as she enters her 60s she is starting a new career and embracing self-improvement. She makes me look forward to growing ‘young at heart.’

What were some of your goals and fears when you were in your young to mid 20s?

I wanted to be an actress in my mid twenties. As for my fears, I was afraid I’d never fall in love.

Can you describe some of the jobs you had in your 20s?

I loved doing freelance promotions for Citi Bank, going from branch to branch introducing new products to their customers. But I got a very bad taste for corportate culture from that experience.

One of the district managers wanted to hire me to work for the bank as a trainee on a fast track. There was an available job that I wanted and knew I’d be good for. He told me that he believed in promoting from within, and that he was being transferred and didn’t want his legacy to be that he said one thing and did something else.

He told me that there were four branch managers I’d have to work with. If they each agreed that I should get the job, he would hire me. So I was interviewed by four people. They all told him I was right for the job. He told me I couldn’t get the job but that I could work at any of those banks because all the managers wanted to work with me.

I asked him why he wasted my time having me interview for a job he’d never give me, and he told me that he never thought all the managers would agree on anything and that he expected that they too would have been more loyal to an existing employee than someone who was a freelance agent. I was seething, and although in theory I could understand his position, I also felt that he had an obligation to do what was best for his company, and I didn’t trust him after that. I knew that eventually I’d work for myself.

And you did end up working for yourself! You started  Property Tax Savers, Inc 22 years ago. What were some of the challenges you were facing right before you started PTS?

We were on the verge of bankruptcy. Our monthly expenses were over $18,000 since we were carrying four houses (My dad builds homes). James had just told me we’d have to put the house we were living in on the market. We had three young children and it was very stressful.

What were some of the challenges you faced once you started PTS?

Before I started my business, most of the work was handled by attorneys. No one was actively going after people who were paying unfair taxes due to inflated assessments. People told me I couldn’t fight city hall and win, but I have over a 99% success rate. People said that homeowners wouldn’t want to hire someone who wasn’t an attorney, but I have to turn people away every year because I have too many clients. I knew I could offer a valuable service, so it was easy to ignore the naysayers.

But the biggest challenge was time. I was working over fourteen hour days during my busy season. I tried to take my kids out for meals everyday but that wasn’t enough. And I was so anxious about getting things right that I’m sure I wasn’t much fun when I was around my family.

Also, in my field you start working in April of one year, and don’t get paid oftentimes until the following year. Then some municipalities decided to sue me and some of my competitors saying we were practising law without a license, even though the state statutes expressly stated that property owners could hire lawyers or representatives to challenge their assessments. We won the case.

What are you most proud of about PTS?

That I started it on my own without any model to follow. I never knew what an assessment was until I researched how to lower my own taxes.

So you’ve been working with property taxes for years and then suddenly you throw yourself into what seems like the complete opposite field – theater. What prompted you to get involved with producing?

I always loved theater, particularly musical theater. And I love talent, and want eveyone to experience what I experience when I hear something extraordinary. Producing gives me the opportunity to share what I love with others. If I don’t make money on my projects I feel as if I supporting the artists I love.

Can you describe some of your recent projects?

I produced a concert both at Joe’s Pub and at our house with my favorite non-famous tenor Brian Charles Rooney. I can, and have, sat on the floor in a small room listening to him sing for hours. When I looked at the faces of the people in the audience while he was performing, I felt as if I were in the right field at the right time for the right reason.

I co-produced “The Best Is Yet To Come” and it was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for best revue for 2011. We had a stellar cast. I gave as much support to our performers as I could. I went to the show at least three times a week, sat in the front row, and let the cast know how wonderful they were each night. I worked on a show in development for two years called “Becoming Tennessee”, with my friend and mentor Michael Parva. The writers had a falling out and that show fell apart. It broke my heart, but it got mended when I started working on “Bedbugs: The Musical”. The writers, Paul Leschen and Fred Sauter are brilliant, quirky and fun as is my director, Robert Bartley.

Everything about this show seems to be falling into place exactly as it should be. We have a great musical, a great director, a great cast, a great musical director. I am so over the moon excited about this project. It will become a cult classic, much like “Little Shop Of Horrors” and “The Rocky  Horror Show”.

Mom with the writers and director of Bedbugs: The Musical.

I can’t wait for the showcase this fall! I’ve seen most of it and I know it’s going to be amazing. What do you love most about producing?

Feeling like I can bring joy to thousands of people.

Have you learned anything about yourself since you started this new career?

This sounds so simple, but when you are doing what you should be doing, things fall into place for you. You meet the right people to get what you need to get done, done. It’s always been hard for me to trust people in business relationships. But you have to give a lot of freedom and control to a lot of people. I’ve learned that I actually love collaborating. I always thought of myself as someone who loves working alone. I guess I love working alone and I love working with people. It depends on what I’m doing.

You’ve lived a full and happy business/personal life. What advice can you give us youngsters who are just starting out?

The best way to go about finding a job is to do what you love to do and figure out a way to make money doing it. The jobs that have meant the most to me, have worked out that way.

I used to love participating in Walk-A-Thons. So much so that I was asked to be a college borough representative for The March Of Dimes because of how many sponsors I got. I became a borough director and worked there for two years.

I love saving people money and I found a way to get paid doing that. Indeed, when my husband asks me what I want for Christmas, my stock answer is for him to shop the day after Christmas. I oftentimes print out extra coupons to give to other pepole. For 22 years I’ve been saving people money on their real estate taxes. If you add all the cumulative savings over the years, I’ve saved people, it comes out to over $10,000,000!

I get very upset at how often people who produce shows don’t make back their money. I also realized that when they do, tickets are often scalped, and don’t sell for as much as they should. So I wrote and filed a patent for auctioning tickets for entertainment venues.

And since it’s mother’s day, I have to ask, what are you most proud of as a mother?

My goals, as a mother, were to show my kids that they could make a difference in the world, and to teach them that there are consequences to their actions. I’m proud of bringing our family to Nicaragua to help build a school when our kids were very young. I believed wholeheartedly that it would be a life changing and life affirming experience for everyone!

Daddy and I were able to send all of our kids to college and two of them for post-grad programs without having them accrue any debt.

And what I’m most proud of is the end products themselves. Three great children who are highly functioning, incredibly giving, creative people who are strong individuals. The best thing I did for my kids was to marry their father. That was the smartest thing I ever did in my life.

I can’t believe they let us fly a plane!

 

How Your Life Can Change in a Week: An Interview with Marina Carulo

One of the murals we painted in Kenya

I met Marina in Kenya while volunteering with Cross Cultural Thresholds. We added some much needed colorful imagery to a school in Kibera. I was taken with her positive attitude and joie de vivre. She was about to start a completely new job as a jewelry designer, and I was impressed because she didn’t have any experiece with jewelry (except a keen eye for fashion!) But I was even more impressed when I caught up with her last week and found out about her new career adventure!

Here’s how a life can change in a week:

Monday:  She had an interview for a position as a full time foot model. The salary was $85k + benefits (who knew foot models make that much) and travel was required. Unfortunately Marina was not a true size 6 – one foot was a 1/3 inch too big. However she hit it off with the interviewer and she shared some sketches.

Tuesday: The interviewer called to ask if Marina would apply for a position as a shoe designer. She didn’t know anything about shoe design so she spent the entire night on the internet reading everything she could about the industry.

Wednesday: She nterviewed with Marc Fisher (designer for Guess and Tommy Hilfiger, and son of the founder of Nine West). He grew up in the shoe business and was pleasantly surprised with Marina’s knowledge and creativity. She was offered a position as a mens shoe designer (with a much higher salary than a foot model!)

Thursday: She started the job and has loved it ever since!

Next week: She was off to China for 21 days to learn about the manufacturing end of shoe design. She said, “as the plane took off for China, I realized how lucky I am, and life seemed so full of possibilities!”

How did she get to this point?

Marina grew up in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Her mother scrimped and saved to put her through private school, where Marina remembers being in awe of her classmates beautiful clothes. That’s when her love of textile and design began.

With just $500 to her name she moved to New York when she was 23. She didn’t know a word of English, so she enrolled in an intensive ESL program at Westchester Community College. After 2 years, her favorite teacher introduced her to the Chairman of the Textiles department at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). He helped her get a scholarship, and two years later she graduated with a degree in textile development and marketing with a 4.0 GPA.

Over the years she has had several jobs in the fashion industry, but none have been as challenging and rewarding as her job with Marc Fisher.

What does it take to be a shoe designer?

At the beginning of the year, Marina and her team receive a trend directory from Tommy Hilfiger and Guess. They begin sketching their designs and picking out the initial materials. They narrow it down to 100 and send those designs to their factory in China. After a few weeks, they fly to China to review the proto-samples and narrow them down to 80.

Then they begin the technical specifications for each sample (what kind of stitching, what colors to use, where the logo will go, what materials will the uppers, cushion, and soul be made from, types of gromets and laces and so on). It’s crucial that every detail be mapped out down to the glue. Production will stop if the manufacturers don’t know if the eye holes for the laces should be nickle or silver.

Three weeks later they get the “salesman lot,” also known as the “pre-production sample.” They send these to buyers (like Macys, Nordstroms, etc) and then they have an idea of how many to order. A few months later the shoes start appearing in fashion shows like FFANY.

The entire time, from design to selling in the store takes 1.5 years!

Next week Marina is headed for Milan, Paris and London. Three times a year, the design team goes to Europe to get inspiration and buy samples of materials, shoes, and patterns that they want to incorporate into future shoe lines.

Marina warns, “This may seem glamorous, but it’s hard work. You really need to love fashion and design. It’s hours and hours of comparing colors, patterns and texture, and I know that’s not for everyone.”

What I love about this story:

Marina's great smile!

So many people pigeonhole themselves. Marina could have easily said, “I know nothing about designing men’s shoes!” But she knew she had the most important skills: creativity, a desire to learn, and an open-mind, and you can accomplish most jobs with those skills. In my book, passion and enthusiasm always trumps experience.

When I asked her how she avoids making excuses she said, “I think of the path I want to go down and I imagine it lined with open doors. I have no idea how long it will take to get through each door, but all I need to focus on is the one right in front of me. I never think of the obstacles, because what is the point? Obstacles won’t help me get through the door.”

She feels truly blessed by God, and wants to start giving back. She asks herself, “What purpose do I want to serve the World?” In my opinion, she’s already served the world with her motivating story!

This is One Curator to Keep an Eye On

Molly Morgan Weiss was one of those special people who stood out in college, and that’s quite a feat in art school. I first saw her hanging outside my dorm in pink, furry, knee-high boots [although, she claims they were black]! We first bonded while painting a mural on the front of the Museum of Archaeology in Nicaragua. We’ve had many crazy adventures together, including almost getting arrested by undercover cops in Poland!

I’ve always been a big fan of her paintings. In fact I own two! I’ve also been to almost all of the shows she curated. From Fantastical Interactical  in the Hamptons, to Burlesque Poetry in Brooklyn, to her most recent show at Gallery 151 in Chelsea, her shows are always  fun, hip, and artsy. She showcases artists with a new perspective and a hint of whimsy (my favorite part). Just recently she secured the position of curator at Gallery 151, a competitive and prestigious position in the art world. Molly took some time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions. Her path from sleeping in her car to becoming an art curator will  inspire you!

Can you tell us about some of your jobs since graduating from Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA)?

The more bad jobs you have the more you realize what you don’t want to do. I was always fortunate enough to know it was art for me. I knew I needed to make it happen.  So, even when my job was (this is embarrassing and awful) billing cancer patients, I would go right home after work and immediately work on my next show, or a large painting or something that fed that art space in me. That job drove a fire in me to find friends who were exhibiting and just wanting to make art wherever whenever. We all worked really hard at it too.  

From writing the press releases to organizing the installations, we all formed a team. We were very close and created a bit of a movement out in our sleepy town (Sag Harbor, NY).  I had the honor to work for the Parrish Art Museum,where I met life long friends as well as continued to exhibit throughout the East End.

The [economic downturn] definitely hurt the art world.  I often feel like I’m on the front lines,  because at any given moment the arts funding can be cut. But that won’t stop me, at least not anytime soon. I was unemployed for a while, but my hard work in the art world eventually brought me to NYC.  I worked at Staples to pay for my art supplies – the coworkers were great, clients were awful.  For the last three years, I’ve been working at Gateway Schools on the Upper West Side.  Its a beautiful school with a great reputation and has allowed me to explore projects with children that I love. 

When did you know you wanted to become a curator?

This sounds cliche, but I think it just happened. People started calling me a curator, and then as I worked on my shows, I realized  that it made absolute sense. I had to work a lot for free, but I loved it so much I didn’t even mind.  

Can you describe the month leading up to landing a position as a curator?

I was accepted into Robert Wilson‘s Watermill Center for visual art and curating.  They were going to put me up for the summer for 6 weeks, all expenses paid, and introduce me to some of the best, talented, hard working artists in the industry today. I was so excited…It was everything I had ever worked for.  I thought I was about to embark on the best dream art summer ever.  

After a couple of nights there I was promptly kicked out because “the icon,” Mr. Wilson, decided he didn’t like me.  He never gave me a reason, I had to find out some things through a grape vine, that I didn’t fit in, he didn’t appreciate my sense of humor, I was “too casual”. I still don’t know if any of that is true but I have to swallow it and deal. The same night I was kicked out, the man I loved for the past three years told me he was leaving me for one of me “good friends”.  Talk about being hit while your already down. I had no apartment, and wound up living out of my car.  It was a rug swiftly pulled from under my feet.  I was devastated.

Then there was a Patti Smith concert, and god damn does Patti Smith feel good in times like these.  That’s where I saw Mike Namer (owner and founder of Gallery 151) and his son Matt, whom I’ve known for years.  They have always been friendly, warm, loving,  interesting people.  He’s the kind of man that is really working hard to give back to his community. With Patti Smith’s words pumping me up, I told Mike about the recent bad events. By the next day he had me over for coffee with him and his wife, and a month later was seriously talking about this job that opened up running his gallery in Chelsea.  Here I am today.  

I’m still in touch with a lot of artists from Watermill Center, and I bought a camera right before summer and religiously documented the whole experience which I plan to exhibit.  And yes, the “ex” boy admits now that he made a mistake. 

The month before this job was crazy, and had I not run into Michael Namer I don’t know what would have happened.  It proves that you need to have a little faith in the uncertainty every once in awhile. I’m usually so organized at plotting my career, so this was a real shake up and a strange time.

Your story is a perfect example of the saying, Luck is what happens when hard work meets opportunity. What advice can you give a young, creative person who’s just graduating from college?

The other day I told one of my interns, just keep going after college, no matter what, just keep at it. I feel strongly if you have a vision, and want to keep making art you must keep going and find other people that are also keeping at it.  When you get a good group of people all doing it the force is unstoppable and the work you want will find you.  You will be broke, but always keep that vision right there, and if you can, and are lucky enough to have supportive people around you, be good to them.  Be humble and eventually you’ll know why you’re doing it. 

What are some of your visions for the future of the gallery? 

I come from a real community orientated background, and luckily for me that is a huge part of the owners vision as well.  As I did out on Long Island, I’d like to collaborate with other artists, setting up exciting events that mix visual art, poetry slams,  crafts,and performance. One of my missions is to make art approachable and interactive.  In the world today, the arts are suffering badly, and its very hard to find serious investors for young emerging artists.  I like to get creative with this obstacle. We have to give them a reason why everyone, from a  young professional to an old wealthy banker, should support the arts. Art is a documentation of our society, so it’s important.  

Can you tell us a little bit about your upcoming show? 

 This next exhibition is a very important one for Mike Namer.  It’s a retrospective for the artist ERO aka. Ever Rocking On (Dominique Philbert) who just recently passed away this summer at a far too young age, 44.  This is the first show of his work since his death, he had a friendship with Mike, and I’ve learnt a lot about the artist while hanging the show and talking to the family.  He was a true artist.  He was misunderstood by society, but was extraordinarily talented.  

He was good friends with Basquiat, and for art history nerds like us, it’s a dream to actually be hanging work from the the early 80’s graffiti art movement.  They played an extremely influential role in the NYC art scene and paved way for a lot of artists to follow. They were a couple of pioneering badasses, and I can only hope to do the same.  The opening is going to be great, and the work is incredible, speaks for itself, we are all really looking forward to it.

ERO: RIP “Ever Rocking On” is open from January 12th to February 1st. Gallery 151 is located at 132 West 18th st (near the corner of 6th Ave). I’ll be there for the opening on Thursday, January 19th, for the opening (6pm-9pm)! Come join us!!!

An interview with the founder of Wild Heart Coaching (part 2)

Here’s the second half of my interview with Lisa Bourque, founder of Wild Heart Coaching. Lisa inspired many people when she quit her job as an Attorney to become a life coach. By focusing on living a more authentic, happy life she has helped others to find their own true passions as well. For more background read part 1!
What would you say to someone who is unhappy with their career right now, but can’t think of any personal passions to drive them to a new career path?
First, get really honest with yourself.  How does it feel to be so unhappy?  Really feel it.  Don’t try to run away from the feeling or shut it out.  You’re feeling this way for a reason.  Get honest with yourself about what isn’t working — is it your environment?  The attitudes of the people you work with?  The type of work you do?  What’s missing?  Then, get honest with yourself about what you really want.  It doesn’t have to be a job title.  But think about how you would like to spend your day — what does that look like?  Who do you work with?  What types of things do you do?  What is the impact you have on others?  Starting to explore these types of questions in an honest way is an important first step.  Because if you aren’t honest with yourself and try to fit into a box that doesn’t fit, it’s going to be hard to make changes.
Second, notice when you do feel engaged in what you’re doing — whether in your life or in your work.  If you don’t ever feel engaged, then it’s time to start trying new things!  Is there something you want to do that you haven’t given yourself permission to do?  Maybe it’s going to a photography exhibit, maybe it’s trying out kayaking, or taking a cooking class.  Whatever is calling to you, try it!  When you start following your interests and allow yourself to experiment, you will get more in touch with personal passions — those things that make you feel happy, alive, and engaged.
A life coach is an expert who partners with you during that process of exploration, self-connection, deeper understanding and awareness, and conscious action toward what you want.  Working with a coach helps you to move forward and deeper more quickly and with greater focus — kind of like hiring a personal trainer to get more fit versus just doing it on your own.  Working with someone who’s main purpose is to help you in this way tends to yield the results you’re looking for much more efficiently!
What is a typical life coaching session like? If someone can’t afford life coaching what would you recommend?
Every coaching session is different!  People have many different issues and goals that they bring to coaching, and the really great thing is that coaching can be applied to many areas of your life.  The only typical thing is that you come to the call (most coaches coach over the phone) with a topic that is important to you — something you’ve been stuck in, a big question that’s been on you mind, a desire to take action that for some reason you haven’t taken yet.  Then I coach you around that topic using whatever tools support your goals or agenda.
Sometimes the session focuses on gaining clarity about what you really wants and what it may look like.  Other times it is exploring your feeling of being stuck and brainstorming new perspectives so that you can take a different approach and move forward where you hadn’t been able to before.  Other times it may be gaining a deeper awareness of what’s going on beneath the surface of everyday life so that you can see the big picture.

If you don’t know if  you are ready for coaching, just start exploring.  Go to a bookstore and browse the personal growth/personal development section and see what draws you in.  One of my favorite books is The Artist’s Way"" by Julia Cameron.  The exercises in that book changed how I saw myself in my life. If you hear about a workshop or a class that seems interesting, take it! Journal.  Even if you aren’t used to writing what’s on your mind, just go for it.  Start by writing 1 page a day about anything you’ve been thinking or feeling.  Write about what you’re feeling.  Build up to a couple pages a day.  Explore blogs that interest you and stretch you to think about your life in new ways.  I write my blog at  http://www.yourwildheart.com/blog.html and offer useful information, tips, and perspectives for free two times a week.  Many other blogs do too — including the HeSo Project!
If you think coaching could be a valuable tool to help you move toward what you want, I invite you to talk to a coach!  Many coaches offer free sample sessions so that you can get a first-hand idea whether coaching is right for you – because ultimately it’s up to you to create the life you want.  I found coaching to be invaluable in my journey and I continue to work with a coach to this day.  I also see how coaching is of great value to my clients – knowing that makes me happy and proud to do what I do every day.
Thank you so much for sharing your insights and motivating story with us!
 Lisa Bourque is a personal coach and the founder of Wild Heart Coaching.  She specializes in helping people who feel lifeless at work to find their authentic path and align their personal and professional passions with confidence and choice.  Visit her website at www.YourWildHeart.com.

An Interview with the founder of Wild Heart Coaching (part 1)

A while ago Mike introduced me to the awesome Lisa Bourque, founder of Wild Heart Coaching. We were both inspired by her story, and I think you will too! After reading this interview check out her website, Wild Heart Coaching . Here’s a HeSo project at it’s finest:

What were you doing before you started life coaching?
I worked as an attorney at a large law firm in New York City practicing products liability litigation with several pro bono immigration/asylum cases.  I have also worked as a legal advocate for women, a volunteer facilitator for a civil rights program in an inner city high school, a paralegal, and in fundraising for a not-for-profit organization.
You were doing what most people would consider satisfying work, what made you want to quit?

So often I hear people making choices based on what they considered to be prestigious work, interesting work, challenging work, or what they think they “should do.”  Satisfaction isn’t always part of the equation!  When I decided to pursue a career path as an attorney, I chose it because it would be an intellectual challenge and also, truth be told, to make “good money.”  I didn’t choose that path to follow my passion, because I was innately good at it, or because I thought it would be satisfying.  Somehow, none of those things were on my mind!  What I didn’t realize at that time was that intellectual engagement is not the most fulfilling thing that I’m looking for in my work.  Sure, I appreciate using and stretching my mind, but I’m looking for much more than that.  I realized that I needed to pursue a different path and a different career when I felt:

(1) Bored and unhappy on a daily basis because my passion and natural gifts were not aligned with my work.

(2) I wanted to serve the world in a different way, one that focused on helping people to transform their lives for the better, and thus the world for the better.

(3) I wanted to have a more  immediate and transformative impact with the time and energy that I put into in my work.

Why did you begin working with a coach?
I was completely unsure of what direction I needed to take to be true to myself. My coach helped me get reconnected with myself and begin to sort out what was truly important to me . . . a profound step because I had never contemplated those things before!
What did you learn during the course of your coach training?

Trusting myself is the only true option for me.  I had to trust who I am, what makes me excited and interested, what I want to contribute, and what I can offer to people when I’m coming from a place of authenticity and being true to myself.  I also learned coaching is one way of helping people to find answers to important questions that they have about their lives, who they want to be, and what they want to do with their one precious life.  How to create the life you want isn’t something that’s typically focused on — and that’s what coaching is all about.

What made you want to be a coach?
The great thing was that there was no one thing that helped me decide to be a coach.  The more I explored and experienced the coaching field, the more I realized that coaching was the right path for me because it just felt right.  I feel great when I’m coaching. I know I am doing something meaningful.  I connect with people in a way that speaks to what is really really important to them.  I believe I am using my energy and abilities to create a better world and to help people bring fulfillment into their lives.  I feel alive when I coach.  I feel grateful.  I feel hopeful.  I feel like I am doing what I’m meant to do.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when you transitioned from attorney to life coach?
I was completely on auto-pilot for many years, performing tasks and doing things by rote because I “had to.”  When I left my job and the practice of law altogether, there was no way I could be on autopilot anymore.  Self-motivation took on a completely new and powerful meaning for me.  I had to shift how I saw myself in the world, and how I saw what I created and offered to others.  I had to establish new routines and creative practices.  Now all of this seems obvious.  But at the time, the task of shifting a lifelong perspective on how work looks like and years of habits that supported that perspective was harder than I thought!
How did your friends and family react to the big change?

I think they were curious about what was going on with me.  I practiced law for only a few years before making my career change — most people would probably have stuck it out for longer than that.  No one in my life was familiar with coaching and what it’s all about when I first started talking about it, so they didn’t really “get it” at first.  But they saw the big shift in my happiness from when  I was a lawyer to when I began coaching  – and that the change was a very positive one. I think they understood that the big change was a great one.  After all, who can argue with their friend/daughter/sister/partner being happy?

Any regrets?
I can’t think of a single one.
Stay tuned for part 2 of this interview. Lisa will give us helpful tools on how to find and capitalize on our personal passions!
 Lisa Bourque is a personal coach and the founder of Wild Heart Coaching.  She specializes in helping people who feel lifeless at work to find their authentic path and align their personal and professional passions with confidence and choice.  Visit her website at www.YourWildHeart.com.

Flying Pigeon

I´m taking a break from sharing about my time in Spain to tell you about my friend´s HeSo inspired enterprise. I recently bought an awesome bike from Nathan Einschlag. We used to teach at the same school until he left to live in China for two years. He fell in love with the bike culture there, and more specifically the legendary bike called Flying Pigeon. He recently bought 140 of these bikes to sell in the States. First read the interview then visit his website so you can ride your very own flying Pigeon!

Where does the name Flying Pigeon come from?

It comes directly from the Chinese factory in Tianjin. The name represents the liberation of the Chinese people after the Japanese invaded China in the late 1940’s. The  image of the Flying Pigeon is actually a representation of a dove symbolizing freedom. The Flying Pigeon bicycle has a rich history in China and has been named a “national treasure” by the People’s Republic.

That´s a lot more history than a Huffy. What made you want to sell them?

I didn’t wake up one morning and think, oh, wow, I want to become a bike salesman. It was much more than that. I wanted to bring something tangible from China to the United States almost as a cultural exchange. There are a lot of people in the States that have never ridden or heard of Flying Pigeon bicycles, and a lot of people who have negative stereotypes about China and their craftsmanship. Bringing the Flying Pigeon bike to the States was a way for me to help immerse Americans in Chinese culture as well as continue my love of riding bikes here in the States and also show that China has great products that can stand up to American standards.

It took a lot of guts to buy 140 bikes. Can you describe some of the anxieties you felt before making such a risky commitment, and how you got past them?

A friend of mine once asked me what I would do if fear didn’t exist.  There comes a time in your life when you want to experience more, do more, and learn more. I made a choice, and stuck to it. Fear and anxiety were just motivating factors, not inhibitors like so many people let them be. Life is about risk and reward. Without the first you can never have the second.

I completely agree. Part of my motivation for the HeSo project is to make fear a motivation rather than an inhibitor. A lot of people use money as an excuse for not taking risks. How did you finance your enterprise?

 I was lucky enough to find an investor who believed in my idea and in me. I’m not an advocate of spending money foolishly, but I say if you are driven and have a plan, then do what you have to do to get there. Scared money doesn’t make money, as the old saying goes.

I´ve never heard that expression, but I like it. How do you plan to sell all of those bikes?

I’m starting from the ground up. Literally- flyers on light-posts and hitting the streets to meet people face to face. I’m taking out craigslists ads and putting bikes on EBAY. I’m going to be hitting the bike store circuit pretty hard this upcoming week to stir up some interest on the distribution front. Word of mouth has proven to be the best so far, but getting the company name on blogs (thanks) is also the direction I’m trying to move in. I really want to get to know the customers buying a Flying Pigeon bicycle. When you buy a bike you’re not only saying you like the bicycle, but that you trust the company name and believe in what I’m trying to do.

Why should someone buy a bike from you?

I think people want to relate to other people in life. People want to be heard and comforted. People want to get their ideas out and ultimately want to trust and be trusted. I want to create a brand where these feelings and emotions are felt with each purchase. When I started NYC Flying Pigeon I wanted to make sure that each of my customers would be fully satisfied with a purchase, and that they would be walking (in this case riding) away with something unique and rich in history, much like each of us is. Each bike is limited in quantity to 40 pieces. These aren’t bikes that you can just go down to the store to buy. They are durable, and have been
spotted all over the world, from Paris to Argentina to Montreal. If you are looking for a bike that will last you a lifetime and has more flavor than your neighbor’s bike, Flying Pigeon is definitely the bike for you.

Describe your perfect day on a Flying Pigeon.

Cruising down a Shanghai street on my way to grab some dumplings with a beautiful lady on the back of my bike.

These bikes are selling quickly so get one soon and enjoy the fall on your new Flying Pigeon!