• Ashley Olafsen Profile Headshot

Ashley Olafsen

ASHLEY OLAFSEN

EPISODE 107: Founder, Visionaria Consulting

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Episode 107 features Ashley Olafsen, Founder of Visionaria Consulting, which supports small businesses through consulting services. I met Ashley through the Next Gen HQ community and was inspired by her story to start M.O.V.E. when she was 16 and then continue on with her entrepreneurship journey in starting Visionaria Consulting.

Here is a link to the book she recommends that she always goes back to:

“When Things Fall Apart” by Pema Chodron – https://www.amazon.com/When-Things-Fall-Apart-Difficult/dp/1611803438

Find Ashley Online:

Website: https://www.visionariaconsulting.com 

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ashley-olafsen-256108b5/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ashleyolafsen/

About Ashley:

Ashley Olafsen is a 2 time published author, TEDx speaker, and social entrepreneur who is passionate about building inspiring businesses. Ashley accidentally became an entrepreneur at the age of 16, when she gave an empowerment workshop to a group of 8th-grade girls.

After realizing her passion for helping others, Ashley co-founded MOVE, LLC, through which she has directed over 100 workshops and 6 week-long summer programs for teenage girls, focusing on self-esteem, body image, leadership, and more.

During college, Ashley created an online video series focusing on the same topics, for students. The 10-part online workshop series, titled ‘Let’s Talk About It: The Workshop Series For Students’ is implemented in wellness and guidance curricula all over New England.

Today, Ashley is the Founder and CEO of Visionaria Consulting and supports small businesses with her consulting services. She is a Vital Voices Fellow, PINK GRL PWR Project Winner, and To learn more about Ashley, visit here: http://www.ashleyolafsen.com/ or www.visionariaconsulting.com

……..

If you enjoyed this interview you may also like my Just Get Started Podcast Interview with Kim Kaupe, Co-Founder of The SuperFan Company

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Ashley Olafsen2020-11-01T13:16:59-04:00

Next Gen and Chill

nextgen

I was sitting on a weekly “Community Coffee” Zoom call that the Next Gen group puts together weekly led by Rachel Gross, the Next Gen Director of Community. It’s an open forum for members to show up and have a collective discussion about almost anything. As we were having a debate around what people are doing to grow themselves, both personally and professionally, it reminded me of just how powerful a community Next Gen is. Here I was, around a mix of people of all different backgrounds, ages, and experiences but with the same common vision in mind – to surround themselves with a support system of like-minded people that are enthusiastic and inspired to change the world for the better.

I’ve been fortunate in many areas of my life for the opportunities that have come my way both as lessons learned from tough times or luck that just happened to work out in my favor.

One of those “luck” moments was the serendipitous introduction to Justin Lafazan, Co-Founder of Next Gen, to be a guest on my Just Get Started Podcast. Thanks, Bryan Wish for the intro!

Fast-Forward 18-months and the connections and life-long friends I have made from that single encounter could not be put accurately into words or probably an equivalent dollar amount.

I was able to attend their Next Gen Summit event in June of 2019, their signature event for their group of entrepreneur members, which totals in the thousands.

I’ve met countless Podcast guests through there, mentors, friends, and even have had the chance to provide guidance to members in need.

One member, in particular, Rich Keller has focused my mind on understanding who I am and the mission I have in life and has helped me discover my One Word, Navigator, which has been a key to defining that purpose.

Other members, Sean Casey and Nick Costelloe, Founders of Universal Dialect, have become fast friends and always have a couch for me to crash on when I visit NYC.

And Chau Mui, Founder of Ciaooo! Magazine has become a great friend where we can be a sounding board for one another with advice while always having the best intentions for the other in mind.

I have dozens of these examples from being a part of this group.

Throughout our lives, we come into new groups and leave old ones. We spend a little time with some and a whole bunch of time with others. We all have reasons for joining certain groups or being attracted to certain situations.

Mine was a community.

I haven’t had many great support systems in my life. Growing up as a middle child and having low self-esteem, I had a hard time fitting into a lot of groups and didn’t have a ton of friends growing up. As I got older and started to find my voice I found the best group of friends anyone could ever ask for. Guys that are still my friends 20 years later. But, as I started to venture into the entrepreneurial waters and tap into my mission in life, I was looking for a new support system, one that looked a lot different than any group I’d ever been a part of before. The Next Gen group appeared to be that fit I was looking for, even as an older Millenial like myself.

My expectations have been exceeded.

From their member-driven Facebook group, to live interviews with well-known Founders, to being one email or message away from making a warm connection to anyone, these folks have the goods.

Full Disclosure, this post was originally slated to be about great support systems, and maybe there was a flavor of that, but it’s also turned into a Next Gen Pep Rally of sorts, which I’d be leading the marching band in. The momentum behind this group, led by Founders Justin Lafazan and Dylan Gambardella, is unreal and I’m so thrilled to be a part of the next phase of Next Gen as we come out of these unprecedented times and into a “new start” filled with optimism, innovation, and gratitude; all key characteristics of the Next Gen group.

I’d encourage anyone looking for a new support system in their lives, has the drive to do great things, and has the “go-giver” mentality, to look towards Next Gen as a place for you.

Go check out their website here: https://nextgenhq.com/

Hope to see you at the next Community Coffee!

Carpe Diem,

Brian

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Next Gen and Chill2021-03-19T10:42:25-04:00

A Tribe Called Next — The Evolution of the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs

As a 1st time “Gen-er” (Is that a word? We’ll make it a word!) to the 5th Annual NextGen Summit I wanted to share a few key thoughts from the observation deck that might prove useful as you go about your day.

Before I jump it, let me take a quick step back. NextGen is a group of thousands of entrepreneurs that are looking to develop the next wave of innovative products and services to shape our future. It was started by Justin Lafazan and Dylan Gambardella five years ago and has had a “rocket-ship like” trajectory in years since. 

Enter NextGen Summit. 

This is their premiere annual conference to get all of these people together and connect them with great speakers and mentors to help shape their businesses. My journey to the conference was a unique one. See, I’ve gone through a Renaissance period, if you will, over the 5 years to rediscover who I really am and what I want out of life. With curiosity as my catalyst, I decided to start a Podcast called Just Get Started 18-months ago to talk with entrepreneurs and others trying to be fulfilled in life. If it wasn’t for that initiative and subsequently being introduced and then interviewing the Co-Founder of NextGen, Justin Lafazan, I wouldn’t have had this incredible opportunity to even share.

If you were so inclined, here is the first episode I did of the Podcast back in November of 2017 that explains my journey a bit more and how I finally got the Podcast going – Just Get Started Podcast: Episode 1

If you didn’t attend NextGen Summit that’s fine. Keep reading. There may be a few gemstones I gathered from the conference that might alter your thinking a bit and help you on your way to become the superstar version of yourself. Maybe not, but at least you can get the pleasure of my “almost failed English class” writing style.

Find Your Tribe

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

A tribe is only as strong as its people and to make those people be harmonious you have to have great Chiefs. It’s hard to find better Chiefs than Justin Lafazan and Dylan Gambardella. There is no shock that this NextGen community has grown so strong. The passion and drive behind Justin & Dylan’s vision is what makes this event special. That resonates with people and it makes people want to fight to hold onto that feeling they get from attending this event. The energy, the kindness, the curiosity, the sharing. It’s so organic and authentic it almost sounds made-up. So that’s my first takeaway. Who do you associate with that makes you feel that you can accomplish anything? That makes you believe you can change the world? I’ll tell you what. I found that here at NextGen. I’ve never been so motivated and hyper-focused in my life and I know, unlike other times in my life, this feeling won’t burn out as the days pass by but smolder and stay hot as I go forward. That’s what having a great tribe will do for you. They’ll support you. They’ll believe in you. They’ll high five you when you win and hug you when you fail. As the famous quote goes, “The whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts”. I’ve never believed that more firmly than after leaving this event and excited for the opportunity to keep in touch with my new Tribe!

How is Your Brownie Different

“If you don’t have a seat at the table you create one.”  – Jesse Itzler

Jesse Itzler (@jesseitzler on Instagram) was a keynote speaker at the event and this guy literally brought the fire the entire session. I won’t give his bio here but go research him. Fascinating guy. I probably could write the whole article on him but one massive takeaway I gleaned was this, “How is your brownie different” (this is in reference to a story he told about pitching a business idea in school). 

The punchline is that you can speak about features and you can speak about service and all that bullshit but when you get down to the brass tax of it all you have to go above and beyond the noise and truly create something that is world-class and doesn’t just limp over the finish line but annihilates the world record. He wasn’t just speaking about business. Personally, what are you doing to create a different experience that is impacting you, your friends/family, and the world. Are you “cashing it in” most days or are you truly trying to be different?

This reminded me of the time I had the Founder of ActiveLifeRX, Dr. Sean Pastruch, on my Podcast and he gave a great quote. He says, “In order to be World-Class, you have to prepare to be un-relatable”. Jesse has done that. He’s thought differently about the world he wants to live in and has set his sights and goals about making an impact in a positive way. He said, “If you don’t have a seat at the table you create one.” Don’t settle for what everyone else around you is doing. If you want to be different, you need to act, think, and perform different. Set the bar high and make your brownie different!

Serendipity Is Real and It’s Spectacular!

“To be called on, you must raise your hand” – Kim Kaupe

(Okay, who got the Seinfeld reference?) I preach Serendipity. The reason I believe in it so strongly is that we have no control over it and yet we have all the control over it. How I got to the conference started long before I got on the plane to NYC. We don’t know what the next step will bring (I could die on this plane flight as I am writing this). Don’t worry, I didn’t. But you get the point.

It’s an opportunity to get outside the dreaded comfort zone and let the universe steer the ship a bit. As Brene Brown once said, “I don’t leap for the perfect landing, I leap for the feeling in the air”.

As an introvert in sheep’s clothing going up and talking to people is tough for me at times. But I met some incredible people. People that I never would’ve crossed paths with if I didn’t accept the invite from NextGen. Full Disclosure: I declined for scheduling reasons initially and glad I made it work out. Who knows what some of those relationships will transform into but it doesn’t matter. My life and hopefully the people that I met will be impacted in a positive way forever. Kim Kaupe (@KimKaupe on Instagram), Founder of the SuperFan Company, spoke about this in her keynote in relation to growing your brand and business. She said,“To be called on, you must raise your hand”.

Sitting on the sidelines and telling a story to yourself of why something isn’t going to work out might seem cozy and nice but it’s not the way you make a splash and it is certainly not the way your create your own luck. If we live in a bubble then truly serendipitous moments are very few and far between. It might be a safe life but what’s the fun in that? Here’s a secret: The “comfort zone” is a made up place. Have the courage to challenge that mindset and look at creating life-changing moments for yourself and your business and not only will you be more fulfilled but serendipity might just connect you with something or someone in a magical way you never could’ve dreamed of.

Come Out of Hibernation

“You have two lives. The second begins when we realize we only have one” – Confucius

Just like a bear hibernating from a long winters nap (literally some hibernate for 7 ½ months), we all have pounds of weight we need to shed. But in my weird animal metaphor I’m not talking about physical weight. A lot of time it’s the mental burden of negativity and the mind warp we’ve all been through for most of our lives that needs to be erased. We’ve all heard it. You can’t be that. You’re not good enough. You’re too young. You’re too old. Whatever. It’s a bunch of Malarkey. Once you accept who you are and what you’re about and why that is absolutely good enough you can start to finally move forward. Maryellis Bunn (@maryellis.bunn on Instagram), Founder of the Museum of Ice Cream, gave a passionate talk about the journey of learning and asking questions that shouldn’t stop when you reach adolescence but should continue on for your entire life. I was amazed when she explained that children ask around 125 questions a day compared to adults who ask only about 6. What happens to that wonder and amazement and imagination we all had? Society happens. That’s what. We become this comatose society of zombies that are following old rituals and habits that haven’t made people any more happy or more successful. So why do it? As Maryellis says, “We have become a society that accepts what is instead of questioning what it should be”.

How many questions are you going to ask about the world today? Shed your mental weight, start believing in yourself and start living a life filled with passion and purpose that is on your own terms.

There Is No Spoon

“You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more.” – Morpheus, The Matrix

Let’s be honest here. What I just wrote about won’t resonate with most. People will cast it aside with excuses of why they can’t do things and chalk it up to “that’s life”. They’ll go on with their day acting like each day before it. And that’s where this Tribe of NextGen-ers and others reading this are different.

You’ve had a choice. You’ve taken the red pill. You’ve become Neo…or Morpheus or Trinity or whoever you want to play in this adventure. Hell, you can be Agent Smith if you like to get down like that. But I digress. You’re already ahead because you’ve realized what most people never will. As the great Steve Jobs said, “Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again”.

The spoon only exists if you accept the world as it is and fit in that box. But that’s not you. There is something inherently different about you. You can’t explain it, I know. But don’t ever let that fire go. Remember what Rich Keller’s passionate talk was about. Just S.C.O.R.E.

Stand-out, Conquer Obstacles, and Reach Excellence.

Whatever you do, always keep that kid inside with wonder and imagination and curiosity to question the outermost realms of the universe and why this all matters.

Until next year. 

Carpe Diem,

Brian

So…what was your biggest takeaway from the conference? Leave a comment below and would love to hear what everyone enjoyed the most!

A Tribe Called Next — The Evolution of the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs2021-03-19T10:41:55-04:00
  • Haley Hoffman Smith Profile Headshot

Haley Hoffman Smith

HALEY HOFFMAN SMITH

EPISODE 35: Author, Her Big Idea

Haley Hoffman Smith Profile Headshot

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Episode 35 is on fire with Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, and Director of Community at NextGen, Hayley Hoffman Smith. Hayley brings a tremendous amount of insight into this episode and shares her early journey with starting a non-profit organization, writing books, and helping build a community of entrepreneurs.

About Hayley:

Haley Hoffman Smith is the author of Her Big Idea, a book on creativity, ideation, and women’s empowerment which debuted as a Top 3 Bestseller in Women & Business. She is a regular keynote speaker who recently spoke at Harvard, Yale, Microsoft, SoGal Ventures, and more. She has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur, and the Washington Examiner, and writes for Entrepreneur and Thrive Global. A recent Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Brown University, she wrote her honors thesis on how women develop their sense of self agency in entrepreneurship and venture capital. She is also the founder of the Her Big Idea Fund in partnership with Brown University’s Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship, which awards grants to women who apply with BIG ideas. Having founded an international nonprofit for girls’ literacy and empowerment at age 18, she has harnessed her own self agency to surpass doubt surrounding her age and gender.

She is the Director of Community for Next Gen Summit, the premier entrepreneurship community of 5,000+ members, and sincerely enjoys consulting and connecting with other entrepreneurs. She cares deeply about identifying and obliterating the limits women feel in the pursuit of their ventures, so they may live in their full power and create their own BIG ideas.

Find Haley Online:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/haleyhoffmansmith/

Website: http://haleyhoffmansmith.com

Couple shout-outs on the episode:

New Degree Press where she worked with them to publish her book- https://www.newdegreepress.com

Link to her book, Her Big Idea -> https://www.amazon.com/Her-Big-Idea-Genheration-Entrepreneurs-ebook/dp/B07DJY56PN

Books she’d recommend:

Grit by Angela Duckworthhttps://www.amazon.com/Grit-Passion-Perseverance-Angela-Duckworth-ebook/dp/B010MH9V3W/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1546296992&sr=1-1&keywords=grit+angela+duckworth

The Creative Curve by Allen Gannetthttps://www.amazon.com/Creative-Curve-Develop-Right-Idea-ebook/dp/B075PVQ99T/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1546297026&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Creative+Curve

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If you enjoyed this interview you may also like my Just Get Started Podcast Interview with Justin Lafazan, Co-Founder of Next Gen

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If you enjoy this episode I’d be grateful if you would leave a 5-star review on Apple Podcasts, if you believe I’ve earned it.  Thanks for listening!

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Haley Hoffman Smith2020-04-25T22:47:49-04:00
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