Life hits all of us unexpectedly. At its worst, it can scar us permanently whether it be physically, emotionally, spiritually, or mentally. This can make the path to recovery feel insurmountable. Especially when it comes to a negative prognosis. Jennifer Cochran, founder and owner of Fitness Design Solutions is here to tell us that your current condition isn’t your destiny. The best thing you can do? Keep moving. Not just mentally, but in all walks of life. The most effective way to get the gears rolling, and overcome willpower, starts with physical activity. Scientifically speaking, numerous studies have proven the positive health effects that result from staying active. Dopamine hits aside, Jennifer can speak to this first hand in her own journey. Following a car accident in 2006 that lead to knee trauma and a bilateral mastectomy in 2016, Jennifer realized one major gap for retention in physical therapy was a mental game. It’s part of why she is so passionate about meeting people where they’re at. If you’ve had nerve damage that sometimes makes it feel like that body part is wet, when it’s otherwise dry. You’re not crazy. She’s felt the same thing in own her knee. Likewise, she experienced the draining up-and-down weekly energy cycles many cancer fighters go through in their own chemo treatments. Fortunately, Jennifer was on her way to becoming a certified Cancer Exercise Specialist prior to her accident. Well before she was diagnosed with cancer herself. This helped her better navigate and understand many obstacles a survivor would need to overcome. Over a decade later, she now specializes in massage therapy, movement therapy, cancer exercise, and coaching. That said, you don’t have to be physically impacted to benefit from Fitness Designs. Jenn is just as excited to help those unsure where to start in their own fitness journey, whether they be stuck in a desk job with limited mobility, or tried going to the gym once, but left overwhelmed. “I want people to walk away [knowing] that wherever you are today [has no bearing on] whatever you want to be like. You can start today from wherever you are.” Jenn’s advice to entrepreneurs: speak your audience’s language. After Jenn’s website was rebuilt to reflect the experiences she had with cancer, she was able to engage her clients on a whole other level. Not only was she someone out to help cancer fighters and survivors, she became a living testimony. And more importantly, someone to relate to. You can learn more about Jenn and Fitness Design Solutions at: fitnessdesignsolutions.com
Whole grains or no carbs at all? That is the diet question of 2018, in addition to all the other regular healthy snacking tips: eat more veggies, stock up on fats, etc. And while many people put effort into their own diet, even if for vanity’s sake, few people research the origins of their food. Nevermind their pets. Eric Parkhurst, founder/owner of EJ’s Meats and Treats, sought to change all that five years ago. It began as a small operation. Eric had experience smoking his own meat from a local farm, in response to an increase in imported meats from China. Soon after, the treats became a hit. Not just with the neighbors. Even the neighbors’ neighbors couldn’t get enough. Today, EJ’s Meats and Treats can be found in 9 stores. And while the growth and reception has been nothing put positive, what Eric didn’t anticipate was how much he’d learn about his own diet. From bleach-washing chickens, to the regulatory nightmares of “organic” certification, he found there are many food-processing practices people don’t consider when it comes to purchasing food. The one thing holding everyone back? Education. For instance, what many people don’t realize is that “free-range” doesn’t mean outside. Typically, free range is limited to “not caged” but still running around in their own feces. This can lead to increased disease, which requires antibiotics, and subsequently affects the quality of the meat. For this reason, and many others, EJ’s works with farms that have a natural pastured approach. I.e. rather than being caged or kept in a barn, animals live exclusively outside. The primary goal? Sourcing meat through humane and sustainable practices. But, high quality, naturally sourced meat also meant heavy research into packaging and distribution. Ensuring every product made it to store shelves, and beyond. Without preservatives. Considering the effort, some might question whether veganism is a better alternative. The short answer? No. While humans can sustain a vegan diet, according to many vets, dogs on vegan diets experience lower quality of life and die earlier than animals on a balanced diet. The better solution? Sourcing as much of your food from a local farm as possible. And while Eric recognizes this isn’t feasible for everyone, he advises everyone to be wary of the instinct to pick the food that “looks” the best. Appearances can be deceiving. Typically, food that looks identical or perfect, has been processed to appear that way. “Our tagline is good for you, good for your canine. [We want people] to buy something that fits within their conscience.” Eric’s advice to fellow entrepreneurs: Think outside the box. More specifically, approach an aspect of your business from a different industry. Initially fixated on making it into as many pet stores as possible, Eric realized more success selling treats at farms and in farmers markets. To learn more about EJ’s Meats and Treats, and the products and services they offer, visit: www.ejsmeatsandtreats.com
Not everyone is a fan of a rocky road. And while there’s something to be said about choosing a “flavor” in life, the biggest mistake people make is quitting too soon. Especially in entrepreneurship, just before they taste the sweet success of their labor. Had they asked Pamela Sams, founder and owner of Jackson Sams Wealth Strategies, they would have learned to stay motivated to the end. Their reward? Endless flavors to choose from, and insider knowledge on which ones are best. Pam has always been a go-to person for advice. But, her real specialty is helping women become empowered with their finances. Both current and future. The key [in achieving anything] is not losing sight of your goals. In fact, Pam learned the value of sticking through life’s ups and downs first hand. Shortly after Pam received an undergraduate degree in advertising, the market bounced. As such, she shifted her focus to investment banking and discovered a penchant for math. During this time, she had her two kids back to back. If discipline was her breakfast, follow-through was her dinner. Even so, the prospect of 80-hour weeks between parenting and investment banking was not ideal. And it wasn’t long before Pam became a personal financial advisor with American Express, which would provide the experience she needed to go out on her own. A few years later, Pam’s father passed. And like many women, Pam’s mother needed guidance due to insufficient financial training. It was then Pam realized financial education was abysmal for women everywhere. Itching to do something about it, she vowed to solve this societal issue. A decision that would set the foundation for Jackson Sams Wealth Strategies. The biggest issue holding women back? Education. Pam argues that the earlier women are introduced to the realities of money, the better. “Working with, earning, and managing money, reduces [women’s] fear, makes them more conformable, and builds [their] confidence in making decisions that improve their financial future.” It’s why Pam dedicates as much of her time to hosting workshops and teaching classes on a regular basis. Even if they don’t become her clients, she knows, they’ll walk away empowered. And more importantly, sleep well at night. Pam’s advice when seeking a financial planner? Steer clear of “promises.” In addition to credibility, you want someone you can trust. Not someone that’s going to sell you a plan, or make you choose a “flavor.” A good financial advisor tells you like it is and isn’t afraid to tell you what you need to hear. After all, it’s why you hired them in the first place. To find out more about Pam and the services she offers, visit: www.jacksonsams.com
Disclaimer: Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., a Registered Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Securities America Advisors, Inc., a SEC Registered Investment Advisory Firm, Pamela Sams, Investment Advisor Representative. Jackson Sams Wealth Strategies, Securities America, Inc. and all other entities named are separate entities.
For new parents, there can be many fears surrounding the changes a child will bring. But, nothing is more terrifying than the first few nights before, during, and after a birth. Especially as a first-time parent. Add varying levels of medical expenses, limited and unpaid time off, and physical recovery for the mother… It’s no wonder parents are over-stressed! And that’s with no complications. Denise Stern, founder/owner of Let Mommy Sleep, experienced all the above in 2009 when her twin girls were born. One year after her son. On top of that, she also experienced birth complications which left her in fragile health. And like many Americans, her husband was not able to take paternity leave. The reality is that most people in the U.S. experience something similar. And yet, ironically, cultural attitudes towards new moms are merciless. The parenting double-standard aside, women come up against controversies at every turn. When, where, why, and how to feed a baby. Stay at home or go to work. Cloth diapers or disposable. Nothing is off limits. Even asking for and receiving help can be viewed as shameful, or exclusive to the wealthy. For Denise, this societal paradigm was unacceptable. Something had to change. And in 2010, within a year after having twins, she founded Let Mommy Sleep. A service dedicated to helping families navigate postpartum by stationing Registered Nurses and Newborn Care Providers in the home. Why RNs and NCPs? With the exception to licensed childcare centers, there is no certification or accreditation for watching a baby. Something Denise encourages every parent to consider when looking for care. It’s one of many reasons Let Mommy Sleep stands apart in the Baby Nurse industry. Every care provider is vaccinated, receives ongoing education, and is trained to stay awake through the night. What’s more, Let Mommy Sleep is the only agency to be awarded a government contract to teach newborn care. In fact, one of Denise’s greatest accomplishments was being invited to the White House to discuss national action on postpartum care. The first goal she hopes to realize in the next handful of years? Getting a 1-2 hour nurse visit within the first week of postpartum covered by insurance. In the meantime, Denise has been far from idle in making this a reality. In 2012, she founded Mission Sleep. A donation-funded, non-profit that provides free baby care for families with a parent who is deployed, wounded, or deceased. Her advice to entrepreneurs starting out: find a numbers person or hire an accountant. “Entrepreneurs have a ready, fire, aim mindset. With a ton of motivation. But at the end of the day, your business is going to live or die on your line items. Not just your excitement.” You can learn more about Denise, Let Mommy Sleep, and their services offered at: www.letmommysleep.com.
From taxes to quality of education, society has faced a sea of troubles for more than a century. But unlike one hundred years ago, today we face a sea of coaches. Business coaches, health coaches, holistic coaches, executive coaches, financial coaches, divorce coaches. You name it. Someone somewhere has become an expert in solving a specific problem. The real question is: Who to trust? This couldn’t be more true in the area of self-help, happiness, and personal growth. Luckily for the Northern VA Advice Giver reader, there’s Cindy Battino (BHSP) certified life coach, fitness trainer, Pilates instructor, energy worker and happiness expert. Cindy’s mission and purpose? Helping clients find happiness in their daily lives by teaching life and relationship skills. With this list of credentials, and more, one would think Cindy was born happy. Sadly, this was not the case. Nearly 27 years ago Cindy was living an idyllic version of the American Dream. But, despite the seemingly perfect lifestyle, inside, she was miserable. It was during this time Cindy experienced three epiphanies that changed her life forever. In recognizing she was the common denominator of her misery, Cindy realized she was never taught the skills needed to develop happiness. As such, she embarked on a journey for nearly a decade studying with the best coaches in the world, which included earning her second bachelor’s degree from the Barbara Brennan School of Healing. In 2011, Cindy founded Transformational Healing and has been helping people living a life of quiet desperation find true happiness. On the issue of pursuing results verses pursuing a passion, Cindy argues it’s less about making the “right” choice, and more about understanding the outcomes of each lifestyle. For her, being called to help others was paramount to the lifestyle she lead. But no matter where you’re at, Cindy encourages everyone to ask for help and surround yourself with people to help you succeed. Especially with people that possess knowledge you don’t have. “I think there are wake up calls and lessons we can either choose to learn from or choose not to. I really believe that obstacles in our path are there for a reason. The question is, ‘What’s the reason?’ ‘What are we supposed to learn?’” Outside of being a life coach, a large part of Cindy’s work is with energy, and helping people on their own metaphysical journey. Can anyone learn to work with energy? Yes. Just like any other area of study, developing the skills to do so takes time. Is it required? No. Energy work isn’t for everyone. To the open skeptic, Cindy suggests everyone experiences energy work with a certified expert at least once, to fully understand what’s involved. To learn more about Cindy, her work, her services, and set up a free 30 minute consultation, visit: www.transform-heal.com
Congratulations! Business is booming, sales have never been greater, and production has gone through the roof. Maybe you’ve hired more employees, or maybe you’ve had a breakthrough. But now, doing your own books is getting difficult or is preventing you from growing your business. Whatever the case may be, you realize now more than ever that you need an accountant. Enter Scott Brinser, founder and owner of Brinser Consulting. With over 25 years of experience in accounting, Scott’s journey into his own business wasn’t much different from other solo entrepreneurs. What started as helping only a few clients became a full-time venture and in some cases part time CFO for other small to mid-size businesses. In fact, Scott isn’t afraid to go above and beyond an accountant role. He often coaches businesses and even draft sales proposals. But taking that leap of faith didn’t come without challenges. In the first six months after Scott got started, his first client dropped off. And although Scott had started working with more clients by that point, it was a fresh reminder that marketing his business to more clients is just as important as helping them. That said, the biggest challenge has been overcoming client hesitancy on opening up their books. And rightly so. In a world where some people give accountants a bad name, building trust with clients is one of the most important roles Scott takes on. “[Whether business owners] are afraid, embarrassed, or ashamed, I’ve taken the mentality: You can’t scare me no matter how bad you think it is. It’s always fixable.” With a penchant for puzzles, Scott’s goal is to minimize the stress and worry by simplifying the back-end numbers. By doing so, they can become a tool for making better decisions, rather than a point of frustration. Even so, many people who recognize the benefits of an outsourced account fall into two traps. The first is that anyone can do bookkeeping, so business owners may hire a friend or relative over a stranger. The other misperception is that trustworthy bookkeepers must also be CPAs. Neither of which are true. In reality, just like hiring a professional to fix your car, past experience, access to resources, and quality of tools makes all the difference. The result? Better informed business decisions. And while CPAs can also do accounting, most small businesses don’t need many of the specialties CPAs offer, such as providing audited financial statements to investors. Bottomline: Scott’s advice to fellow entrepreneurs and business owners is to be fearless in asking questions. “There is so much more to running a business than being good at your craft. The more questions you ask, the earlier you can recognize how hiring an expert may help you.” To learn more about Scott and the services he offers, visit: brinserconsulting.com
Having something for everyone is a bold claim. Especially as a newcomer on the scene. And as a declared purveyor of healthy food, it can get even trickier. For Patrick Mika, Catering and Marketing Director for Mezeh Mediterranean Grill, healthy food for all is a welcome challenge. Initially driven by making people happy with cooking, Patrick had his sights on culinary school. Instead, he ended up going to business school and working at a local restaurant, Moe’s, as a way to earn extra money. It was here he realized being the best chef wasn’t the only way to make an impact, and found management to be his real strong suit. A short while later, the franchise owners that managed several different concepts of restaurants, including Moe’s, hired Patrick for their corporate entity. Ever since, he’s overseen the catering and marketing efforts for fifteen different restaurants across five different brands, including Mezeh. This experience helped inform many lessons on bringing healthy cuisine to the Northern Virginia area. Including catering to different diets. “We like to tell people that we have something for every pallet or dietary restriction. One of the things [we] didn’t realize is once we say [something like] gluten free, then we have people clamoring for more info on what’s in our food. And, rather than give a blanket answer and say we only respect vegetarians [for example], we run back to the research and development table and make recommendations based on their dietary needs.” Another big lesson for Patrick and the team at Mezeh is realizing every market is different. There is no universal truth to execute or pitfall to avoid. Different customers, perspectives, and obstacles have helped them grow from five locations to ten in the last year. And setup the first corporate office. To achieve this, taking feedback from guests and making incremental improvements has been instrumental. It’s part of why Mezeh is so passionate about getting involved with their local community and participating in fundraisers, kids’ soccer programs, and summer camps (to name just a few examples). Getting to know the local community is a major part of helping build it up and make it better. In fact, Patrick and the team are working on a scholarship program they hope to have ready by next summer. Long term, Mezeh has their sights on taking the world by storm! But first, Patrick hopes to see Mezeh through to their goal of a whopping 500 units nationwide. You can learn more about Mezeh, including food options, locations, and others services at: www.mezeh.com
Most people know, hiring a lawyer the day before trial doesn’t bode well. The same is true for event planning. In both instances, hiring a professional early on produces better results. Not only to build trust, but to benefit from the years of experience learned by the expert! For Edelina Rose, founder and owner of Event Details by Edelina, it is no different. With nearly twenty years in the event planning industry, Edelina started in 1999 interning for a local event planning company out of Fairfax. A few short years later, the owner decided to sell and left the remaining parts for Edelina. In 2003, Event Details by Edelina was born. Ever since, she has been on call late at night for reassurance, answering questions, and giving guidance to soon-to-be-brides, and more. For her, every event is personal. Especially weddings. Unlike most coordinators who direct and manage, Edelina takes pride in being a consultant that isn’t afraid to put in the work and get her hands dirty. Short a bartender? Down one server? No problem. As the demand for non-traditional weddings grows, so do the demands of non-traditional planning. For Edelina, this means having an on-hand team that works with her to get things from point A to point B. “It’s one thing to have everything you need [chairs, food, drinks, etc.], but who’s going to set it up? Two-hundred chairs is a lot [for one person].” It’s details like these that Edelina gets excited about seeing through. Even something just as simple as reminding upcoming newlyweds to get their rings cleaned the day before. Or having a few cars to stay behind to help clean up. All lessons learned from past events. In fact, it’s one of the many things Edelina loves about her work: learning something new. The melting pot of the NOVA/DC area lends itself to working with many different cultural nuances from wearing two dresses to helping introverts through the nightmare of center stage attention. That said, regardless of background, almost everyone forgets the total number of hours that actually go into a single event. This means finding a balance between cost and work load and factoring in unexpected “what-ifs”. In one such event, a torrential downpour required over two hundred chairs be moved under cover in minutes, which affected the entire run of events. Luckily, Edelina reworked and moved up cocktail hour. The result? Short of knowing that things were running behind due to weather, guests were dry and happily drinking. Edelina’s advice to entrepreneurs starting out? “[Running a business] really does take every bit of care, time, effort and everything else that you can think of to put into it. You really have to want it. [And that] requires effort.” You can learn more about Edelina and request a consultation at www.eventdetailsbyedelina.com
Deep down inside every entrepreneur is an itch that needs to be scratched. A feeling that something in their life is in the way from doing something better. Anne Beverly, founder and owner of Bluebird Counseling Center, experienced something similar in her own journey. Before counseling women and teens, she started teaching chemistry in special education. This early passion was largely inspired by her experience growing up with a brother with autism. After 10 years, she started to find many of the responsibilities of teaching were getting in the way of what she was meant to do – counseling moms and the kids she was working with. She returned to grad school to earn a third master’s degree in clinical mental health, on top of her two master’s degrees in education. During this time, her internship was centered around supporting and helping victims overcome sexual trauma. This experience fueled her mission to empower victims, and offer Solution-Focused Therapy for women and teens from all backgrounds. However, the road from teacher to therapist wasn’t smooth sailing. After years of hard work, Anne was denied from the program she had been dreaming of, which truly surprised her given her credentials. But rather than be set back, she added the experience to her list of lessons: to keep pushing for your dreams. Her advice to look beyond closed doors isn’t just for entrepreneurs. It serves many of her patients as well. “One of the great things about being a therapist is being able to help your patients through the forest, when all they feel is lost in the trees.” More than anything else, Anne wants people to know that “you are enough.” Further, anyone feeling suicidal, depressed, or unable to keep up with their daily life should seek help immediately. That said, you don’t have to be facing an immediate crisis to seek help. Anne is currently developing a workshop to address the struggle women face when making friends, which she hopes to launch this November. Long term, she hopes to inspire a society less destination driven. One that is no longer dependent on social networking or obsessed with comparing themselves to others. You can learn more about Anne and request a consultation at www.bluebirdcounselingcenter.com
Too often we are told the odds are too great. Our best is not enough. Or that we’ll never be able to achieve our dreams. And yet, as entrepreneurs, we still look for what’s possible while the naysayers argue about what’s fair and what’s not. One need not look far on the Northern VA Advice Givers media site to find out that life is not fair. Everyone will face different obstacles, some more challenging than others. But, the WILL to succeed is a universal choice accessible to anyone. It’s one of many common threads among our interviewees. The fact is: the world is full of cynics. And no one knows this better than speaker, business consultant, and performance coach, Robert Moeller. Raised in New Jersey, Robert was “counted out” of success early on due to a learning disability. In fact, his guidance counselor in high school advised him to rethink going to college. Determined to do better, Robert enlisted in the Navy SEALs in 2003 and served for the next 14 years. In reflecting on his desire to serve, Robert credits his parents who adopted him from an orphanage in South America nearly 40 years ago. And while he accomplished many things during his service, it wasn’t until recently that he discovered his true purpose: helping others maximize their own potential. To do this, Robert pulls from his military experience and starts by tackling the “Two Brains:” Mindset and Physical “Gut” Health. Simply put: bad diet, low physical activity, poor health habits, all contribute to low energy and decreased brain function. But even the healthiest person in the world won’t get far on broken beliefs. One such misperception is underestimating the scope of work necessary to change. One potential factor may be the fact that anyone can be a “life-coach” today. In reality, there is no quick-fix, hypnotic force, or magic pill that will transform anyone over night. Robert asserts developing permanent, long-lasting change takes anywhere from 3-4 months to truly get started. For this reason, he doesn’t just work with anybody who “wants” to change. Clients must demonstrate traction in one of three “D’s”. 1. Discipline – the commitment to develop habits in spite of oneself. 2. Determination – the desire to change outweighs the pain of changing. 3. Dedication – action and follow-through, to get back up even when you fail. So, what about those lacking in all areas? Robert poses a simple question: “How do you feel?” Once he gets past “good,” the answers that follow are the most telling and come down to mindset. “I take people on a journey and really dig deep inside [to find] what their expectations, goals, and priorities are.” Provided the proper mindset, a game plan is made. Long term, Robert hopes to extend his one on one coaching methods to a larger societal context. A society that holds itself accountable and doesn’t succumb to the trappings of instant gratification. His advice to those looking for their purpose? Relax. “I didn’t discover how I was truly fulfilled until my late 30s.” You can find out more about Robert and the services he offers at: www.robertmoeller.net