7-Year-Old Boy Gets Bullied And Channels Pain Into Starting A Non-Profit

By | bullying, everyday heroes, Food for thought, inspiring, Motivation, stories, success, uplifting news

A boy who was bullied at school crushed it with kindness. Now he’s on a mission to help those in need and spread the power of positivity.

Seven-year-old Cavanaugh Bell of Gaithersburg, Maryland, still remembers the pain of being picked on.

“I was bullied for working faster than others,” he told People. “At one point I asked my mom if she would be sad if I died.”

I had the darkness inside me and I didn’t want kids to feel the same way I felt

Cavanaugh Bell

Channeling pain into purpose

However, instead of bottling up the hurt, he channeled his pain into purpose and positive impact. Using his own savings, Bell started putting together and distributing care packages containing food and other essentials to his elderly neighbors in need during COVID.

It turns out that making smiles can be pretty addictive.

The more I gave back to my community, the more I wanted to keep doing it

Cavanaugh Bell

Recruiting his mom, Llacey Simmons, to help “spread love and positivity”, Bell created a GoFundMe page to promote his cause.  Donations poured in.

Thanks to a space offered by a local gym, Bell kicked off the “LOVE is greater than COVID-19” Community Pantry. With the extra space, he was able to not only keep more seniors safe, but also spread the good vibes beyond his community.

Helping a nation

Bell remembered a road trip to Mt. Rushmore with his mom, when they passed through the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, considered one of the poorest areas in America.

She had told him that some were without electricity or running water. Worse, the population is stricken with high rates of alcoholism and suicide. For Bell — also part Native American — that was unacceptable. 

it’s not fair that we’re having great and happy life when they’re suffering in the middle of nowhere

Cavanaugh Bell

With the help of his mom and scores of generous donors, he hired a driver and loaded up a 53-foot truck chalk full of clothing and essentials for the people of Pine Ridge.

For seven-year-old Bell, the mission is simple. “I’m just trying to make them have a big fat smile on their face.”

A mission to end bullying

And it’s just the beginning.

Bell also founded his own non-profit called Cool and Dope, where he sits as its Chief Positivity Creator.

Bell has set the ambitious goal to end all bullying worldwide by 2030. At this point, is there any reason to doubt him?

Cavanaugh believes he can save the world, and I believe him! He doesn’t see anything as a challenge and that’s what I love about his innocence

Alice Phelps, director of ‘First Families Now’ and member of  Pine Ridge Community

Positivity can move mountains

Bell’s organization has raised over $30,000, and has helped over 10,000 people with food and essential COVID supplies.

And to think it all started with a moment of empathy during his darkest time. Who else might be feeling this way, and how can I help?

Bell’s response to injustice proves that acts of kindness, once set in motion, can be an unstoppable force.

I just wanna teach people they can have an impact no matter their age — no matter if you’re 8, 10, or even my grandma’s age, 74 — you can do anything!

Cavanaugh Bell

More uplifting news:

25 Ryan Reynolds Quotes For When You Need a Serious Laugh

By | actors, Food for thought, Funny, Quotes, ryan reynolds, success

Ryan Reynolds is one of the sexiest men alive and an actor who has starred in movies from comedies (Van Wilder) to dramas (Fireflies in the Garden) and everything in between.

He’s also known as Detective Pikachu and the funniest superhero since X-Men Origins: Wolverine was released; as the saucy Deadpool, he never fails to make people laugh.

But before becoming one of Hollywood’s most beloved actors, Reynolds earned a living just like everyone else, working in warehouses or taking late shifts at a grocery store. The money he was getting as a young actor wasn’t enough to support himself so he needed some extra cash.

He also has an amazing relationship with his wife Blake Lively but when it comes to his children, Ryan is the perfect father. He got so good at changing diapers that now he can even do it while the kids are running.

Reynolds is either “too deep” or makes fun of everything, no matter how serious the topic is. He’s a great entertainer onscreen and on social media, as his fans on Twitter can testify.

Here are 25 Ryan Reynolds quotes that are both smart and hilarious

I don’t expect success. I prepare for it.

I don’t personally believe that villains exist. Villains are just a way of saying that somebody has an opposing conviction.

Laughing can serve you in dark moments and even help you crawl your way back out.

Sometimes it’s just enough to keep your body moving. I get depressed if I don’t move.

Acting has given me a way to channel my angst. I feel like an overweight, pimply faced kid a lot of the time – and finding a way to access that insecurity, and put it toward something creative is incredibly rewarding. I feel very lucky.

I’m teaching my daughter that the sun goes down each night because it’s mad at her. Probably gonna write a book on parenting at some point.

When you have expectations, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.

I firmly believe that you can’t manufacture chemistry with anyone, let alone a kid.

We might be too proud to admit it as guys, but we still need to learn how to manage responsibility, how to face our challenges.

I’d walk through fire for my daughter. Well not FIRE, because it’s dangerous. But a super humid room. But not too humid, because my hair.

Any kind of crisis can be good. It wakes you up.

I never took acting classes, but I knew I could do it based on the skill with which I lied to my parents on a regular basis.

I think you have to let go of this idea that you can be precious about everything, and let it be the abstract mess that it is.

I used to say to [Blake], ‘I would take a bullet for you. I could never love anything as much as I love you.’ And the second I looked in that baby’s eyes, I knew in that exact moment that if we were ever under attack, I would use my wife as a human shield to protect that baby.

I think every relationship is going to go through a few rough patches. Those are what make it stronger, I think.

I figure if you’re going to jump off a cliff, you might as well fly.

I’m going to admit when I’m clueless, and I’m going to ask people for help when I don’t know the answer to something.

I’ll look for the joke in things so that I don’t look for the sadness and the grief.

I have a discipline that has served me very well in my career and in my personal life… and that’s gotten stronger as I’ve gotten older. I’ve always felt if I don’t just have a natural knack for it, I will just out-discipline the competition if I have to — work harder than anybody else.

I can’t tell the difference between meditation and silent inner shrieking.

You wake up in the middle of the night, you got a big stupid smile on your face. I was telling someone else that anything else that woke you up every 45 minutes, you’d kill it. But when it’s a baby, it’s the best thing that ever happened to you.

People have their complexities. They have their heroic moments and their villainous moments, too.

I learned discipline from my father. Not in terms of corporal punishment, but being determined in whatever you do, and sticking with it.

There are so few surprises left in life. We’ve gotten so addicted to knowing. It’s the Google generation. We want the answer to everything right now!

I think we can all use a little more patience. I get a little impatient sometimes and I wish I didn’t.

This One Lesson From Kevin Hart’s Late Mother Drove Him to Excel

By | career growth, comedians, family, Food for thought, Inspiring Celebrities, Kevin Hart, motivating, profile, relationships, success

Born in 1979 in Philadelphia, Kevin Hart is a successful stand-up comedian and actor who has consistently made us laugh over the last decade. He has built an amazing career out of his talent for captivating storytelling.

The entertainer is highly ambitious and a man of discipline. These were probably the main ingredients to Kevin’s recipe for success, which helped him go from almost nothing to more than he has ever dreamed of.

He started small but his dreams were big

While Hart’s life is now made of hit movies and seriously funny stand-up comedy shows, it hasn’t always been like this. But no matter where he was in his journey, he’s consistently had the support of the most important person in his life: his mother. She greatly contributed to making his trajectory a little smoother.

The reason I am the way I am is because my mom was strong. It may have affected my mom, but my mom was such a strong woman.


His first job was sizing men and women for footwear, but he had bigger plans for his future. He needed a job to help ends meet but he quit as soon as he realized that he could become a performer.

A single mom’s efforts

Hart and his older brother were raised by single mom Nancy. With a spouse lost in a life of drug addiction, Nancy had to remain strong for her boys. She worked as a Systems Analyst and did everything she could so that her two sons would receive proper education and stay off the streets. She was a religious, loving woman, yet, as Hart often portrays her in his shows, also intimidating.

In an interview with Oprah, Kevin recalled the moment when he took the biggest decision of his life and the way his mother reacted to it. He knew what he wanted to do, but he couldn’t do it without any help.

His mother supported him despite her religious values

Nancy didn’t really agree to her son’s aspirations. She hated all the cursing during his performances but she was supportive nonetheless. As he mentioned during an interview with Oprah, his mother told him:

You know what, Kevin? I’m not a dream killer. You tell me this is what you wanna do, I’m gonna let you do it. You got one year to prove to me that this is what you wanna do and that you can support yourself.

At first, Kevin didn’t do a great job in supporting himself. Regardless, he loved what he was doing and didn’t want to stop. He was building relationships that would later help him become famous. But at the time, meeting new people didn’t help to pay his rent.

This story of his beginnings and his mother’s help is one he has told many times. As he was about to get evicted, he sought his mother to ask for money. She insisted on telling him to read the Bible first before coming back to talk about his rent.

How was that going to help in such a situation? Well, once Kevin decided to open his Bible and read it just to please his mom, six cheques covering his rent fell out of it.

He was missing a little faith, but learned his lesson.

Kevin’s got many hilarious anecdotes involving his mother. If you’re a fan of his work, you’re probably familiar with what happened to him the first time he cursed in front of her.

Sadly, Kevin’s mother would not live to experience his breakthrough success, as she died of cancer in 2007. Hart only knew his mother was gravely ill a few weeks before her death.

He was devastated because he lost the person who believed in him and taught him to be the tireless and determined man that he is today.

As a religious person, Nancy Hart wasn’t the biggest fan of her son’s work and she didn’t talk too much about his career. She was, however, as supportive as it gets and proud of his success.

When he was cleaning out her house, Hart found a box filled with newspaper and magazine clippings of his interviews.

Anything I’d ever done, she had it […] She never missed anything.

The values she instilled in her two sons also remained. Kevin and his brother forgave their father for being absent during their upbringing and eventually helped him get through rehabilitation.

Regardless of my upbringing and the way I was raised and how often he was in my life, he’s my dad. I have a positive outlook on life regardless, and I’m going to love him because he’s my father.

The eternal appreciation of a son

Ever since releasing his first stand-up album I’m a Grown Little Man in 2009, he has gone on to achieving big Hollywood success, appearing in films like: Think Like a Man (2012), About Last Night (2014), Get Hard (2015), Central Intelligence (2016), Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) and The Upside (2019).

He’s also a fitness enthusiast with a strict schedule. He gets up every morning at 5:30, hits the gym, and then takes care of business. From entertainment to fashion, to wellness and financial education, Kevin Hart is now a business tycoon and one of the biggest stars on the planet.

His mother’s lessons live on

Hart mentions his mother almost every time he talks about his accomplishments. He knows that he wouldn’t have become the person he is today if it weren’t for the effort she put in raising him. Nancy encouraged him to always have a positive outlook on life and never give up on his dreams.

The values imparted by a mother, or by any role model, often help us in figuring out what kind of life we want to lead. Being grateful for the lessons and aligning our actions to these values, much like Kevin did, enable us to unlock our potential.

More inspiring stories:

He Was Left in a Dumpster as a Baby– Today, He Runs a Multi-Million Dollar Company

By | entrepreneurs, Food for thought, inspiring, news, success, success stories

We sometimes like to our lack of certain opportunities or advantages growing up for the fact that we have not reached our full potential in life. But the reality is, any person from any beginning is capable of greatness.

Freddie Figgers’ story is proof of that. In 1989, he was abandoned in a Florida dumpster, just hours after he was born. He was eventually discovered by a random passerby who called the police, and was then taken to the hospital. He was eventually placed in the foster care system.

Sounds like a terrible beginning with all odds stacked against him, right? Well, yes. But that’s not how the rest of his story would go.

Everyone in town knew he was the “dumpster baby”

Freddie was eventually adopted by the Figgers family, but the tragic story of his birth followed him throughout his childhood.

“It’s a rural area, so after it happened, everybody heard about it,” said Figgers, now 30, in an interview with the Washington Post.

My parents told me the truth about what happened as I grew older. I thought about it a lot as a kid, and I’d have to say it was embarrassing when I was younger.


However, Figgers still had a good childhood. When he was 9, his father bought him a used computer at a thrift store. It was the right move.

“He thought that a computer might help to keep me out of trouble,” said Figgers, who would take that computer apart and put it back together several times, learning how the machine worked.

“I still have it,” Figgers said of that first computer. “It’s what sparked my interest in technology.”

He turned his gift into a successful career

By the time he was 13, he got a job repairing computers and when he was 15, he started his own computer repair company.

“I wouldn’t recommend my path to everyone,” said Figgers. “But it worked for me. When I was 17, I had 150 clients that needed websites and storage for their files. I just kept building from there.”

By his early twenties, he sold a GPS tracker program he had built himself for millions. It was a tracker he had initially conceived to help his dad, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s.

“I created a device that I could insert in his shoe that would allow me to track him, plus talk to him through his shoe,” said Figgers.

“It was difficult to watch him decline — it’s something you never forget,” said Freddie Figgers. “I’ve always been so grateful to him and my mom. They taught me not to let my circumstances define who I was.”

Freddie now works to help and inspire others

Figgers is now 30 and is the founder of Figgers Wireless, which is worth over $60 million. He also runs the Figgers Foundation, which donates to all sorts of charitable causes.

The best thing any human being can do is influence another one.


And sure enough, his story is a source of inspiration to us all.

Freddie did not allow the unfortunate circumstances of his birth to define the rest of his life. Instead, he decided to focus on his talents and take charge of his own narrative. By paying more attention to our existing strengths, we have control over what our future can look like.

More inspiring success stories:

What Happened When Kristen Stewart Broke Free of Twilight

By | actors, career growth, empowering, Food for thought, Inspiring Celebrities, kristen stewart, success

Kristen Stewart, 29, is an American actress who has been in the business ever since she was a child, starring in Panic Room and Speak, but her breakout role was as the infamous Bella Swan.

Despite a long list of film credits to her name, Kristen rose to fame in the vampire melodrama movies series Twilight – a franchise that people around the world would either worship or loathe.

Stewart never wanted to play along when it came to tabloids, but the vast number of complaints from Twilight critics and her romance with co-star Robert Pattinson pushed her right into the spotlight.

How Kristen handled the spotlight

To a lot of teenagers, Kristen became an idol during the Twilight mania of the late 2000s. However, in trying to cope with all the attention received from the media, the actress was perceived as reluctant and moody.

Apparently, the problem was that she wasn’t smiling enough while embracing her massive success. Many magazines at the time called her annoying, grumpy or awkward; every time you’d check your social media there’d be at least one meme with Bella’s “poker face.”

Even after the Twilight series ended and Stewart moved on to new projects, people didn’t cease to tease her – she seemed destined to be remembered as the girl from Twilight who couldn’t emote.

The unforgettable role that brought her fame and adoration from millions of fans turned out to be nothing more than a stepping stone for Kristen’s acting career.

Her behavior and actions were wrongfully perceived, misunderstood, and she paid a great price for it – quite ironic considering her success, she became one of the most underrated stars.

She just wanted people to like her

Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart
(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Years after the Twilight era, Stewart stepped forward and talked about how she really felt about how others perceived her and how it affected her both personally and professionally.

I am in no way rebellious. I am in no way contrarian. I just want people to like me.

So contrary to some public opinions, she was neither awkward nor grumpy. She simply had her own way of adjusting to all the attention she was suddenly getting.

At the height of her fame, Kristen was going through unbearable amounts of stress and admits she was impacted by people misunderstanding her at the time.

I had panic attacks. I used to puke every day and very casually too… I always had a stomach ache and I was a control freak. I couldn’t anticipate what was going to happen in a given situation, so I’d be like, ‘Maybe I’m going to get sick’. Then I’d be sick.

She now understands how fans could’ve misinterpreted her wariness to the spotlight for something else.

While other movie stars smile and wave whenever there’s a camera near them, Stewart did the best she could to be cool about it, but her attitude didn’t bring the positive outcomes she expected.

I think I’ve grown out of this, but I used to be really frustrated that because I didn’t leap willingly into being at the center of a certain amount of attention, that it seemed like I was an a**hole.

So she took a different route

A lot of actors are remembered for some of their most iconic roles, but their talent is not limited to one performance. Kristen had to step out of all the fuss created by the Twilight saga and prove everyone that she is capable of so much more.

She found her voice after opting for smaller movies of the indie and art house variety. She’s forging the life she chose for herself and has pumped out some seriously great, yet underappreciated, work.

From Snow White and the Huntsman to Certain Women, Personal Shopper to Clouds of Sils Maria (for which she was the first American actress to win a Cesar Award, the French equivalent of an Oscar), Stewart has proven that she is a versatile actress who can take on new challenges.

I was finally given a chance to be looked at, not as this thing in this celebrity-obsessed culture that was like, ‘Oh, that’s the girl from Twilight.’

Stewart is definitely more than “the girl from Twilight.” She has evolved both professionally and personally and that can be easily seen in her attitude – Stewart is more confident and relaxed than she has ever been.

And if you’re still skeptical about her potential and can’t the “Bella” image out of your head, take a chance and watch some of her other work. She has spent the last decade building a diverse, challenging filmography.

Stewart has also delved into directing and even starred as the face of numerous stylish Chanel campaigns.

Taking responsibility for who she really is

After she and co-star Robert Pattinson made headlines with their tumultuous relationship, Stewart has described her sexuality as fluid.

In 2017, however, she went viral with her Saturday Night Live opening monologue, containing a simple line that said “I’m like, so gay, dude” made the crowd go crazy!

She is now in a happy relationship with screenwriter Dylan Meyer and even plans to propose.

After breaking out in a way that felt inauthentic to her, Kristen Stewart focused on changing her reputation in the most inarguable way: by doing great work, regardless of what others expected from her.

We’re happy to see that Kristen has managed to break out of that slump and show her fans that she is a far more talented actress than all those critics assumed she’ll ever be.

Rather than the helpless girl who couldn’t choose between a vampire and a werewolf, she is a now an award-winning performer who only takes parts that have value and meaning to her.

Jessica Alba’s Drastic Change to Chase Her Billion Dollar Dream Business

By | actors, entrepreneurs, Food for thought, Inspiring Celebrities, jessica alba, motivating, success, success stories

Life is a many-splendored thing. And as we humans evolve (albeit slowly), career moves that were traditionally considered more daring or even unwise, are becoming bold and even, well, natural.

But in an era where switching careers mid-course, or else diversifying and doing multiple things at once is fast becoming the norm, starting your own business from nothing can still be scary as hell. It’s big– and if you’re a woman, it can seem even more daunting to do what so few have done before you.

Jessica Alba’s honest risk-taking

While it’s true that being famous may seem like a pretty big advantage when starting a business, we can still learn from our favorite stars. Take actress Jessica Alba, for instance.

Alba is all-too-aware of her popularity, but rather than flaunt it, she’s harnessed it to help build her business, The Honest Company, which owes much more to its success than Alba’s face.

Alba, the star of hit movies like Fantastic Four, started to form the idea of The Honest Company right around the time her first child was born in 2008.

After experiencing an allergic reaction to laundry detergent marketed for babies, she started researching some of the most commonly used chemicals in every day products, and rightly ended up lobbying congress for chemical reform.

The Honest Company launched in 2012 with 17 products, with sales reaching $10 million in that very first year, according to Vanity Fair

Now, The Honest Company offers a wide range of human friendly products, from “eco-friendly” patterned diapers to bug spray, and organic belly balm. Products typically list out all ingredients used in their products– along with a list of harmful chemicals not included.

So far, Alba’s business venture, which recently celebrated its 7th birthday, was valued at around $1 billion in 2017, has raised $503 million in funding, and catapulted her reputation from A-list actress to entrepreneur extraordinaire.

She changed herself to change the world

When she first began building her business, in spite of her fame, Alba admits it wasn’t easy.

“I just felt so alone on this journey,” she shared on the CNN podcast Boss Files with Poppy Harlow. She admitted that having trouble asserting herself was a big part of the challenge. “It’s tough when you’re the only woman in… the board room.” 

At the start, Alba was one of 3 co-founders, the rest of whom were men, and she says there was a discrepancy in priorities. But, she has emphasized a significant truth that takes many an entrepreneur years to learn:

You have to trust your gut and you have to know that diversity and thought is important

She said, “I shouldn’t be the only one who understands the consumer and cares about the consumer. But the issue was, you know the mindset was, that when you build something from nothing, is you’re really having the business revolve around a business model, versus building a brand and being consumer-centric.”

She walks the walk

Photo Credit: Featureflash Photo Agency /

So far, despite the inner tensions and juggling of priorities that seem to characterize many a business venture, Alba’s desire to create an honest, diverse, integrity-driven company that caters to consumers first and foremost seems to be winning out.

Currently, 65% of The Honest Company’s employees are women. That said, only 3 out of 9 executives— Alba included— are women. This is not lost on her, which is why the company has also increased its efforts to help women within its ranks rise up. 

“We’re … creating a program inside of the company, so no matter where you come in, at any entry-level job or up, there’s a path for you,” Alba told Poppy Harlow, “…to get you up to where you want to go in your life, and up to that C-suite executive capabilities. “So we’re going to have a curriculum, and a program and a mentorship in-house … for women specifically. It’s necessary.”

Don’t be afraid to change course for a new dream

Jessica Alba and Honest company Cofounder
(Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for

So, if you think you’ve already chosen a path and can’t very well switch routes, think again.

Maybe you’re in consulting but you harbor a secret sadness that your custom cake company has yet to come to life and may never be—because, hey, it’s just a silly dream, right? Think again.

Will it be easy? Probably not. Expensive, difficult? Maybe, yes. But one thing’s for sure: if you know in your heart that starting your biz of choice is necessary to keeping your spirits up where they oughta be, it will be worthwhile.

To build a successful business, never be afraid of capitalizing on your strengths, just as Alba has used her fame expand and expound upon her vision. 

Alba, for one, is happy with her choice. Of her company, she says, “It’s my baby! I’m so proud of it … I believe we’re changing the conversation. You never really heard about toxic chemicals in products before. It wasn’t that commercial when we launched [seven] years ago. People weren’t questioning ingredients or whether there was a safe alternative. Some people were, but they were sort of looked at as like, ‘Oh, you’re a hippie.’ But now it’s mainstream… Hopefully, it will allow people to live better and healthier lives because they’ll at least know what to avoid.”

As Bob Dylan once said: “You do what you must do and ya do it well.”

More inspiring celebrities:

It’s Time to Throw Yourself a Debt Funeral — Here’s How

By | Finance, Food for thought, how-to guide, motivating, news, success, success stories

Debt can feel like a crippling part of the lives of many. It may seem like you’ll never be out of the red. And when that triumphant moment occurs when you see the other side of your debt, you are likely to want to celebrate.

Mandy Velez, a New York City-based journalist from the Daily Beast, recently did just that in the most creative of ways: She celebrated the “death” of her student loans by holding a funeral.

When Velez was able to pay off her $102,000 balance of student debt in approximately six years, she knew she had a tremendous reason to celebrate.

She dressed up in her funereal best and had a playful, celebratory photoshoot in a local cemetery to commemorate her achievement.

Was it easy? No. Worth it? I’m smiling in a cemetery. 102K lifted from my back. You tell me.

“I finally killed them. It was a slow death but was worth every bit of the fight,” Mandy wrote on Instagram.

What Mandy did right

View this post on Instagram

DING DONG MY LOANS ARE DEAD💀 It is with immense pleasure that I announce the death of my student loans. On August 2, 2019, after 6 years, I finally killed them. It was a slow death but was worth every bit of the fight. Let me tell you about my journey: It began in 2013, when I graduated with a total of 75K in student loans. I moved to New York, but I made sure to pay more than the minimums, which totaled to $1K a month. It was like another rent. I took jobs not based on what I really wanted but what could help me survive. I did this for five years straight. Even after a lay-off during this journey I hustled like hell and never missed a payment. It was more than most people can do, and I, a single, childless, able-bodied woman consider myself lucky. But still, I carried this burden alone. I never asked for or received help. No one ever paid my bills. Then last fall, something in me broke. Maybe it was feeling like my life was on hold, but I just remember thinking I was DONE. I didn’t want to owe anyone anything more. I wanted to start saving for my future. A house. Kids. A life. So I made a decision—I’d become debt-free by 30. I’m proud to say I accomplished my goal 2 years early. In fact, I killed that last 32K in EIGHT months. I cut my budget and lived off of less than a third of my monthly salary. (Turns out, packing lunches and not taking Ubers can save you a ton.) I worked my ass off at work and asked for raises, and got them. I worked three jobs at once, my day job and then side hustles. I walked dogs until my feet literally bled. In the cold. In the rain. In the heat. Nothing was beneath me. I babysat. I cat sat. I stayed up for 24 hours straight to make a few hundred bucks as a TV extra on shows they filmed overnight. I cut my food budget down to merely salad, eggs, chicken and rice. I said “no”—my God I said no—to making memories with my family and friends and prayed there would be other opportunities in the future. Was it easy? No. Worth it? I’m smiling in a cemetery. 102K lifted from my back. You tell me. 1/3 📸@120ish ___ #studentloans #loans #studentdebt #studentdebtcrisis #freecollege #studentloanforgiveness #debtfreejourney #babysteps

A post shared by Mandy Velez (@mandyvel) on Oct 9, 2019 at 8:26am PDT

Mandy’s story is one that is familiar to so many of us. When she graduated from college in in 2013, she did so burdened by about $75,000 in student loans. For a long while, she was paying them off at the most she could afford – about $1,000 per month.

However, Mandy was determined to be debt-free by the time she turned 30, and so, as the years passed, she started to take more drastic and extreme methods.

To do this, she cut her budget in a big way and lived off of less than a third of her monthly salary. 

Many quickly discovered many little ways to save a lot of money. She started to packing her own lunches (buying lunch out every day adds up fast!), quit using taxis or Ubers, and traded in brunch dates for walks in the park.

She also supplemented her demanding full-time job by taking on odd jobs, like dog-walking, babysitting, and getting work as an extra on TV shows for extra cash.

By doing this, she managed to eliminate $32,000 of her debt in just eight months

“I celebrate my freedom but I don’t feel we student borrowers deserve the hardship that comes with these loans: high interest rates, sketchy providers, yearly tuition hikes, the list goes on,” she wrote.

But it’s not for everyone

Mandy did a fantastic job eliminating her student loans. Her hard work and determination immensely paid off, but there’s something else to consider.

“I love how Mandy hustled to decrease her debt,” said Jen Narciso, founder of Investor Mama. “She is clearly a baller who knows how to get things done!”

Not everyone looking to eliminate their debt is in the same flexible place in their lives as Mandy. More urgent expenses caused by dependents such as children make it much harder to save.

“I really appreciated that she said, ‘not everyone could do what she did and that the game is rigged.’” said Narcisco. “I 100% agree with that and that’s why I think it’s so important for readers to be educated,” said Narcisco.

How to reduce your debt differently

Although Mandy did a remarkable job and accomplished quite the feat by eliminating her debt, she clearly acknowledges that this may not be an approach for everyone. 

However, here are a few suggestions that others may want to consider in their approach to debt repayment.

The best way to pay off loans is to increase revenue or decrease expenses.

“The three largest expenses that a person typically has are 1. housing, 2. car and 3. groceries. If you can reduce these three items, you can use the difference to pay-down debt so much faster,” said Narciso. 

To reduce housing costs, you can also “house hack.”

“It’s an awesome strategy where you buy a single family and rent out rooms or a multi-family,” said Narciso. “Live in one unit and rent out the rest. Tenants pay off your mortgage letting you live rent free.”

This allows you to multiply your savings rate by eliminating majority of your housing expenses and putting it towards your debt.

“My husband and I did this with a child by purchasing a two family, allowing us to live in a high end neighborhood with great schools and paying a fraction of the cost to own m or rent,” said Narciso.

Mandy also did a great job with reducing her food bills.

“If you have a family and can’t reduce your grocery bill as much as she did, you can still meal prep for the week and buy in bulk. Spending a few minutes at the beginning of the week planning, can help you save hundreds of dollars a month,” said Narciso. 

There’s a lot we can learn from Mandy:

Establish a household budget

Mandy established how she could reduce her monthly spending by reducing food consumption, uber use, and entertainment. 

“By committing to reducing her spending, she had more disposable income to use to pay off her debt obligations,” said Robert Gauvreau, an award winning CPA and founding partner of Gauvreau & Associates CPA who specializes in helping entrepreneurs grow, scale, and turn a profit.

“One of the best ways to eliminate debt is to live within your means and use any increases in compensation, not to increase your spending and lifestyle, but rather to utilize these amounts to repay debt at a more rapid pace,” said Gauvreau.

The “hustle”

So many people continue to work within their 9 to 5 and use the rest of the time to rest, refresh, and live. If eliminating your debt is a priority, there’s another way to think about your time.

“One way to find a quicker approach to eliminating debt would be to find a passion and/or side hustle, that can generate some extra income which can be used to eliminate debt obligations,” said Gauvreau. 

Even better, as you enter into a side passion project, you may find a real opportunity to focus on your passion and earn income while pursuing it.

The debt-snowball method

This is a debt-reduction strategy that focuses on paying off accounts, starting with the smallest balances first.

“When the smallest debt is paid in full, you roll the money you were paying on that debt into the next smallest balance, while repaying the minimum payments on larger debts.  This is certainly an approach that focuses on small wins and creates momentum towards the debt elimination. It has proven to be an effective approach to debt elimination,” said Gauvreau.

Debt consolidation

“One of the major reasons so many people get themselves in a position where they feel ‘stuck’ in their position, not able to eliminate debt in their lives, is due to high interest loans which require significant interest payments, and once these are taken care of, there is nothing remaining to start paying it down. Typical debts of this nature include credit cards (usually in the 19% to 21% range) and other high interest loans.  It would be beneficial to review these high interest debts with a traditional lender to see if they would be willing to transfer these high interest loans into a more traditional, low interest loan, that will have a fixed term of repayment (and an option to add ‘extra payments’ over the term),” said Gauvreau.

Pay high interest debt first

“Although the snowball method is an effective approach to debt repayment, if you would extrapolate the payment of small loans off first, rather than focusing on paying off high interest loans first, the system is slightly flawed. Any opportunity to eliminate high interest loans off your debt portfolio will have a significant impact on your ability to accelerate debt repayment,” said Gauvreau.

Accelerate payments

Some people may not be as willing to eliminate all aspects of social life as Mandy was, and that’s okay too. 

But if you’re truly focused on speeding up your debt payments, “you will need to commit to a budget, and find extra money, on a weekly basis, to make additional payments towards principle repayments,” said Gauvreau.

Have you ever looked at a mortgage or car loan and had the loan provider demonstrate the difference between $1,000 monthly vs. $250 weekly payments?  If you did, you would know that the individual who pays the weekly amounts will pay off their debt much faster and will eliminate their debt years earlier.  

At the end of the day, Mandy’s success is inspirational. We can learn not just from her strategies for debt repayment, but also from the unique and ecstatic way that she chose to celebrate her impressive achievement. Your success deserves to be celebrated — even if it’s a with a funeral.

Joe Rogan’s Secret to Success: Strategic Quitting

By | career growth, challenging, Food for thought, joe rogan, speaker, success

“Apparently Fear is not a Factor to you!”

These are the immortal words of the fantastic television masterpiece that was Fear Factor. Okay, okay, it wasn’t quite a masterpiece but when I was in high school, it was the first exposure that I ever had to Joe Rogan.

Of course this is not at all where his career started but it was where I and thousands of others had a first exposure to him. However, I never expected that the host of something as ridiculous as Fear Factor, a series that seemed to exist so that Survivor rejects would eat bugs on camera, would years later inspire me so deeply.

How much passion is too much?

Today there is so much pressure to be really good at one thing. One half of that pressure comes from social media, where you need to create your presence and be your own cohesive brand to get any attention. The other half of the pressure comes from the need to create a passionate career for yourself.

It is becoming increasingly hard to establish and grow a solid career nowadays and more and more people are striking out to build businesses on their own. However, that push also drives people to try and become experts, to make their brand recognizable and successful.

This push to be single-passioned actually goes against our nature as humans. We are innately passionate about and interested many different things. And if you are anything like me, that instinct to be good at and explore many different avenues just can’t be ignored.

However, as a business owner myself, I struggled for a long time wondering if I were to explore more than one passion, would success even be possible?

This is where Joe Rogan comes in

Joe Rogan‘s career has been anything but tunnel-visioned. In fact, his success comes not from being singularly focused but rather multi-passionate.

A journey through his career will then reveal a unique and inspiring path to multi-passionate fulfillment.

The unexpected first passion

Prior to what the world views as his career, Joe was a passionate martial artist. He practiced multiple types of martial arts all through middle school and high school. He was even won the US Open Championship Taekwondo tournament at the age of nineteen. Joe then went on to become a Taekwondo instructor but retired from that life path at the age of 21 because he feared injuring himself longterm.

That left him without a career path at 21. Joe tried to do the typical thing at that point and go to college, but it wasn’t for him and he dropped out.

It is refreshing to me that Joe acknowledged when something wasn’t for him and changed direction. That alone is such a challenge to do.

I urge you, if you are doing something that is not aligned with who you are or what you want, pivot. Life is too short to be dedicating time to something that doesn’t fulfill you. There are other options for finding success.

After his short college adventure, Joe tried his hand at stand-up comedy– a far cry from the world of martial arts, but another thing he was deeply passionate about.

He spent years trying to build his comedy career while working odd jobs and living with family before he could financially manage becoming a full-time comic.

One of the most fascinating lessons I’ve absorbed about life is that the struggle is good.

The second-wind passion

However, through the struggle, Joe’s comedy career as well as his acting began to gain momentum. He had consistent roles on a few different sitcoms in the 1990s that allowed him to have the financial freedom to dedicate more time to his comedy, and became regular at many comedy clubs in the LA area.

Working on sitcoms was not exactly a passion of Joe’s but they helped him dedicate more time to his actual passions and gave him a foothold to expand his reach.

That’s when the next major change hit the stage

MMA was something Joe had enjoyed since an early age and he often attended matches. When Dana White, UFC network producer, asked Joe to be a commentator he originally declined because he didn’t want to make one of his passions into work.

But after doing fifteen shows commentating in exchange for free tickets, Joe accepted the job and spent nearly ten years being a commentator for UFC, winning awards for his work. At the same time, he accepted a job hosting Fear Factor.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Joe Rogan was not passionate about people eating bugs and jumping off of high places for prize money and fame, but he was passionate about entertainment. And sure enough, Fear Factor was entertaining for seven seasons.

Now that he had two consistent gigs going, Joe was able to invest far more time into his comedy. He also spent time developing and working on a variety of different TV shows and even began writing a book.

The idea is once you understand what excellence is all about, whether it’s in painting, or carpentry or martial arts, that you see how that excellence manifests itself in any discipline. I think that all the different things that I do enhance all the other things that I do.

The passion that brings everything together

Once leaving commentating and game show hosting, Joe launched multiple comedy specials and had roles in major motion pictures. He also began putting significant passion behind his blog.

Joe had been blogging since the early 2000s but now it really kicked up a notch. He also journeyed into a new medium, launching his now-massively successful The Joe Rogan Experience podcast.

His podcast is really where all his different passions have shined through to a wider audience. He had a chance to share not only his comedy but his passion for social issues and people in general. These are the focal point of his show, which consistently tops podcast charts and has inspired many others, including myself, to create podcasts.

Joe also used the podcast to dive into his passion for knowledge and metaphysical beliefs. He dedicated time to appear on multiple documentaries centered on the abilities of mind-altering substances to aid in consciousness and introspection.

Excellence in anything increases your potential in everything.

What we can learn from Joe’s many passions

I was reintroduced to Joe, like many people, through his podcast and documentaries. Hearing his genuine wisdom about consciousness and the sharing of his many passions is what deeply inspired me.

At the time I rediscovered Joe, I was going through a deeply internal conflict of whether or not it was possible to be a “successful” person if I was multi-passionate.

Could I do many different things and still build a career I wanted?

In charting Joe Rogan’s career, we can see how he flourished by following his many passions rather than just focusing on one element. Now he’s offering his wisdom to those who need to hear it– including me.

Not only did his story come to me at a time when I needed the validation that having many passions is good, but it is in part because of his story that I have diversified my business to help more people than ever before.

His entire life seems to speak to the the fact that Joe is truly the one for whom fear is not a factor, after all.

Joe’s journey goes to show the importance of acknowledging all that you are. Honor all the parts of you. Do all the things you want.

Homeless Woman With the Voice of an Angel Scores a Record Deal

By | career growth, Food for thought, inspiring, news, stories, success, success stories

Sometimes it feels like without money in the bank and connections in our contacts list, it’s impossible to get anywhere in life or our career.

Time and again, it seems net worth and who you know means so much more than talent or skill or ambition. To some extent, there’s lots of stories like that.

But it’s not always true, and sometimes, even those with so much stacked against them turn their lives around – and those people are the greatest inspirations of all.

Her voice was her only comfort

Take for example, the recent story of Emily Zamourka, a homeless woman who went viral after she sang opera in, of all, places, a Los Angeles subway station.

Emily, who took the internet by storm, has now been offered a recording contract by Grammy-nominated producer Joel Diamond, who saw that video and knew he was witnessing something special.

Diamond has has since drawn up an offer letter and hopes the album they create together will be an “innovative classical/EDM crossover hit record for the subway soprano,” he said in a press release.

“I try very hard to think out of the box,” Diamond told CBS News. “I saw her on this viral video like everybody else and I said to myself, ‘You know something — and I felt it in my gut — there’s not only a great story here, but also a great career here. And all she needs is an opportunity to help her fulfill her dream. And that’s when I reached out and I hope to be going into a recording studio within the next couple of weeks.”

Her talent is louder than anything else

Emily used to play her violin in the streets to earn money, but then her $10,000 instrument was stolen. She then became homeless and has been sleeping on cardboard as a mattress in a parking lot.

But life is already looking up for her. In the week since the video was posted, nearly $100,000 in donations have been made to Emily through two GoFundMe accounts.

Between that and her new potential record deal, her life may have just turned around in a big way. It just goes to show that our talents can change not only our own lives but the lives of others as well.

When we see potential in others, reaching out a hand to acknowledge that and help foster it is the most powerfully good act we can undertake.

How Ellen Pompeo Fought for What She Deserves on Grey’s Anatomy

By | career growth, empowering, Food for thought, profile, success

Ellen Pompeo hasn’t always been one of television’s highest-paid actresses; it’s a career milestone she fought hard for.

“I’m 48 now, so I’ve finally gotten to the place where I’m OK asking for what I deserve, which is something that comes only with age,” she told The Hollywood Reporter in a 2018 interview.

When Pompeo first saw the script for Grey’s Anatomy, she was less than enthusiastic and initially refused to audition for the show. Her goal was originally to be a movie star.

Fast-forward 14 years later: the hit drama has just entered its 16th season, and Pompeo earns over $20 million a year for her starring role as Dr. Meredith Grey.

How Ellen Pompeo chose her battle:

Meredith Grey in Grey's Anatomy

The actress has been the face of the record-breaking show for years, so when she learned that her co-star, Patrick Dempsey, was getting paid nearly double the amount she was, she became determined to prove her worth. After all, she literally put the “Grey” in “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Her opportunity came when Dempsey’s character, Dr. Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd, was killed off the show in 2015.  

“They could always use him as leverage against me — ‘We don’t need you; we have Patrick’ — which they did for years. I don’t know if they also did that to him, because he and I never discussed our deals,” she told THR.

She had to fight on her own

Pompeo says she reached out to her co-star several times to see if he’d be willing to negotiate their salaries together but he wasn’t interested. 

“At one point, I asked for $5,000 more than him just on principle, because the show is Grey’s Anatomy and I’m Meredith Grey. They wouldn’t give it to me. And I could have walked away, so why didn’t I? It’s my show; I’m the number one,” she said.

So, when he exited the show in season 11, and the network felt that Grey’s could not go on without the male lead, it became the actress’ mission to prove that it could — and it did.

Here’s how she fought for her worth and equal pay:

Ellen Pompeo as Meredith in Grey's Anatomy

She overcame self-doubt

In the first few seasons of Grey’s, Pompeo had no idea of the significant pay gap between her and her co-star.

Not wanting to be seen as difficult or “too greedy,” she held back from asking for a pay increase until she began to recognize her worth.

She isn’t afraid to stand up for herself, but stays humble

Not only did Pompeo approach her co-star on multiple occasions to enter joint salary negotiations, she even asked for $5,000 more than him based on her role, which the network turned down.

She’s admitted it left her feeling defeated and wanting to quit the show, but she held on tight to her convictions and stayed on so she could support her family.

She never backs down

Not one to give up, Pompeo turned to Grey’s creator Shonda Rhimes for negotiating advice after Dempsey left the show. She was determined to try again.

“Decide what you think you’re worth and then ask for what you think you’re worth. Nobody’s just going to give it to you.” 

Shonda Rhimes

When the show’s ratings spiked after Dempsey’s departure, she knew it was her time to take action, so she did her research, and found out how much money the show generated for Disney, and used those numbers to support her negotiations.

She isn’t afraid to ask for what she wants

Not only was she able to secure an unprecedented deal that has her earning over $20 million a year ($575,000 per episode) for the next two seasons, but Pompeo also negotiated for more creative freedom in her work.

Since then, she’s directed two episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and founded her own production company, Calamity Jane.

If the titular star of the longest-running medical drama in TV history still had to fight to be paid what she deserves, then we must all take her battle to heart, and fight for our own equal treatment and right to parity.