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Drown the Noise

Author: Andrea Lynett : Journalist, Adventurer & Entrepreneur

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Drown the Noise is designed to highlight stories from entrepreneurs, change-makers and forward thinkers, drowning the noise in their lives to leave a lasting legacy. Through authentic conversations with inspiring individuals, we uncover how they found the courage to live life on their own terms and follow their dreams. Learn more at www.andrealynett.com
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Vitina is living the entrepreneurial dream. She's figured out how to combine her love of travel and wellness and make a career out of it. Cool, eh. But that wasn't always the case. She basically had to have a breakdown of sorts - or breakthrough - in order to see that the life she was living for years, wasn't fulfilling her any longer. At the time of this transformation, she had been working in advertising in the music industry - working over 80+ hours a week - and consistently going to the best events and parties in town. To a lot of outsiders, she was living a dream life even then. But it's true - if you're doing something that doesn't align with what your soul craves, then there will be an end point. Her journey to co-founding a wellness business, Wanderwell, and her own blog, WanderfulSoul, mirrors a bit of an Eat, Pray, Love storyline. She left the hustle of city life behind, for a month in an Ashram and five months of travel. It's also where she got to know herself again and her true desires and passion. And somewhat serendipitously, around the same time, she met her co-founder. In this episode, you'll hear how you too, can get back to your own passions, quiet the noise, and create a life that is fulfilling and profitable, so you can continue to do what you love without compromise.
They believed in their business so much so, that they packed up their family and moved around the world to bring their vision to life. Founder of social enterprise and global lifestyle brand, Thankful, Kim McDonnell and her husband spent many years just trying to trademark the concept. Their mission: tapping into the science of positive psychology, Thankful creates opportunities to provide Thankful Moments via an innovative business model that merges a product licensing program, global cause awareness campaigns, and a nonprofit arm. Creating the first multi-product, multi-cause social impact brand capable of spreading thankfulness and measurable impact. Thankful donates a percentage of their profits to their non-profit foundation, and then re-distributes the money to other non-profits around the world. After years of working in the advertising world and for major brands, they realized that their skills and expertise could come together to make a positive and lasting impact. Not just in dollar form, but for people and the planet. Consumerism isn't going anywhere. But if we can have a say in how our dollars are spent, who they go to, and have a positive impact on someone else- wouldn't you want to be a part of that movement?
It’s amazing to see couples blend their creative talents to create a thriving company, while still maintaining their own interests. JP and Kirsten McCrea have managed to do just that as partners in business and life. When they met, they were both working on their own creative pursuits – Kirsten had her own business as a muralist and artists, as well as founding Papirmass on her own, while JP was a teacher, design professional and writer. When they got together, JP was really intrigued by what Kirsten started with Papirmass, that he knew he wanted to help it grow. What started out as a passion project with 100 subscribers in its first year, has now grown to upwards of 1500 people who look forward to their monthly curated art collections from around the world. They still do their own things and follow various creative pursuits - but together, they saw the hole in the art world and decided to fill a niche market. If there's one key takeaway from this one, it's that if you have a passion, follow it. You don’t need millions of subscribers to make an impact. You just need that unique idea to gain a loyal audience. 
Clinton Bopp knew from an early age that he loved art. It was almost as if he was born with the talent. But he never thought he'd make a career out of being an artist. It just wasn't practical. And to be honest, the career kind of happened a bit by chance. He couldn't afford to go to art school, so he decided to take a job teaching art in America. Which was a far cry from his New Zealand roots. Once he got to the states, he just never left. Something about his surroundings kept keeping him there. Over time, he's become one of the most sought after muralists and street artists in L.A; but his success didn't happen overnight. He spent many year perfecting his craft, working with other professionals, and often blending many different types of art together to create a unique masterpiece. That includes everything from painting, to drawing, digital, sculpting, wood, stone and many more. And he uses his art to express the inter-connectedness of the world and people around him. He may appear as more of a street artists to the naked eye; but he's really inspired by the art of the ages, and often invokes a sort of renaissance approach, with a modern twist.
Before founding her own sustainable fashion company, Kirsten Dickerson was working as an art director in the film world, as well as holding various jobs within the global non-profit leadership realm. Raven and Lily's origins began with Kirsten calling together some of her friends in the L.A design scene to create a non-profit focused on offering women a more sustainable livelihood within the fashion industry. They wanted to help guide and train these women to create garments that people all over the world would desire and seek out, and provide them with security and a sustainable living. Once Kirsten saw the joy and need the non-profit was creating, she quit her job and pursued this work full time. The company is now a certified B-corporation, that employs over 1500 marginalized women in countries like Kenya, Cambodia, Guatemala, Pakistan, just to name a few. They offer these women a fair trade wage, access to a safe job, sustainable income, healthcare and other tools that help them thrive. As Kirsten believes, "when women move forward, the world moves with them" - African Proverb.  
Do you think that if you lived with less that you would be happier? This was the questions Cait Flanders posed to herself a few years back. Not one to shy away from setting personal challenges, she decided to do a self-imposed shopping ban for a year. All she could buy were necessities, like groceries, toiletries and gas for her car. Everything else - including coffee- were off limits. And she will be the first to tell you that it changed her life for the better. It definitely wasn't easy. And the self-development/reflection that came up throughout the year was extremely difficult at times; but she finally felt a renewed sense of purpose and fulfillment. She no longer turned to things to feel happy. In her book, The Year of Less, Cait documents how she managed to get out of the vicious cycle of want, buy, rinse, repeat - that we all so often fall victim to - and the steps she took to stay accountable. She not only got rid of belongings, but she liberated herself from the constraints of consumerism, and all the guilt that follows.
These two were destined to create positive and lasting change in the world. They may not have always been personally aligned; but essentially, their values and morals were the same. Cassandra worked in development, while Edison toiled away in investment banking and consulting for companies working in developing regions. Eventually, they realized that their visions were intertwined, and what was once a friendship, blossomed into a romantic relationship and an eventual life partnership. Now, they work on their own NGO, Justice Rising, where the goal is to empower communities affected by war through proper education and continuous support and guidance. They aren't about a bandaid solution. Everything they do is about sustainability, proper training on the ground and consistent support. Educating children living in war zones empowers them to break the cycle of war and build a culture of peace.
Ben Brown wasn't always super political. He was political in the sense that he got out to vote, but that was about it. He wasn't one to vocalize his political opinion to friends or family. Until one day he couldn't get this idea out of his head. He recognized that there wasn't a lobbying voice out there for young Americans, and so he began thinking about what that might look like if there was an group that would fight for youth on issues that affected them. Like student debt, climate change and criminal justice. What would the future look like if the 3 billion dollar lobbying industry was disrupted by young people? How would the world look in twenty years if this type of organization existed? And so, he left his clean-energy job to start up the Association of Young Americans (AYA). They are getting close to having 10 thousand members. Have created partnerships with brands that align with their vision and are holding politicians accountable to their word, by having consistent engagement with legislators on issues that youth care about. They lobby on behalf of young Americans and make it easy to stay informed.
Mary Neely grew up in the entertainment industry. Not only is she a native of L.A; but both of her parents also worked in the industry. So she's no stranger to the glitz and glam of it all. From an early age she wanted to be an actress. She got her B.A. in acting + Scandinavian culture from UCLA's School of Theater, Film & Television, wrote a screenplay that became a top 40 finalist in The Academy's Nicholl Fellowship and then wrote, directed, produced, edited, and starred in her first short film THE DRESSER. The thing about Hollywood, is that you could wait your whole life to be 'discovered' or be given that perfect script. And Mary wasn't willing to wait for someone to find her. When she has an idea, she tests it out. That's how she's built her resume with so many accolades and accomplishments in such a short time. Including having her latest short film selected for SXSW. Mary is a self-taught director, who recognized the gap in strong female characters and decided to create a reality where they exist.
Samatha Paige has had her fair share of 'bad' things happen to her in her lifetime. Enough to make a person ask "why me?" over and over again. But instead of dwelling on that, Samantha has turned her own heartache and trauma into something that's released her truth and vulnerability. After being diagnosed with cancer at 21 and then told she had the BRCA1 gene in 2008, Samantha decided to take matters into her own hands. Those experiences were tough and created a lot of change in her life; but they shaped her worldview and showed her how to literally and figuratively make those 'last cuts' in ones life. She looks at these last cuts are those decisions we are faced with in our lives, that we're too scared to make; but know are necessary for us to live in line with our essence.  These health challenges have helped Samantha to rise stronger and release her artist within, focusing on raw conversations with others and herself with the Last Cut Project. She's now a role model and thought leader who shows others how to engage in vulnerable self-inquiry to live a connected, fulfilled life that feels like one's own.
Ashley didn't always want to be a baker. In fact, her pastry class in college really frustrated her. She actually wanted to be a chef. But life had other plans for her and her creative heart. After working for many years as a line cook and sous chef, she realizes that her creative side was being stifled. So she tested out her abilities at a chocolate shop, and eventually at various high end dining establishments around Toronto as a pastry chef. Finding she had a bigger love for the sweet side of food, and having an idea in her back pocket for the better part of a year, Ashley decided to try something on her own. Initially, she didn't quit her day job, as many would suspect. Instead, she began making dessert (mostly doughnuts) for her friend's food establishment. Not surprisingly, they were a hit. And ultimately, what started out as a passion project and wholesale business, Glory Hole Doughnuts has now morphed into a physical establishment, with staff and an array of uniquely flavoured round treats! 
Not dissimilar to a lot of health professionals, Meghan found nutrition and a love for cooking slightly out of necessity. When she was in her early 20s, she was headed down the corporate path, and pretty stressed out. At that time, her doctor also diagnosed her with crohn's disease. Armed with the knowledge that she would never be rid of the disease - according to Western medicine - Meghan decided to do her own research and investigation. That led her to sign up for nutrition school and subsequently, she went from not really knowing how to cook, to learning how to properly nourish her body. Because of the changes she infused into her life, she no longer suffers from crohn's. That experience taught her that food is our natural healer, and if we learn how to create meals that work on an individual level, we can heal ourselves from the inside out. She's now released two popular books, been in business for over 10 years, built up her company from a solopreneurship to one that has multiple employees and has one of the most successful culinary programs on the internet with thousands of students signing up each year. To say she's found her calling, is an understatement. 
When you have the travel bug, it's almost impossible to shake it. For Tracy Komlos, her love for travel began at an early age, thanks to her parents who valued experiences over things. At the age of 19, she took off on a solo-volunteer trip to India and immediately realized that she wanted to build a life around travel. But how? She studied communications and history in University, quickly coming to the conclusion that she didn't want to work for anyone else but herself by the time she graduated. Armed with a love of photography and content creation, she began reaching out to brands around the world and building partnerships that would be mutually beneficial. Her production company created the content for these brands and ultimately, she was able to build a life that was on her terms. She could now go wherever and whenever she wanted. This was way before we even knew what the word "influencer" meant or even digital nomad. Tracy was a bit of a trailblazer, without even knowing it. She built her dream life by a lot of persistence, trial and error and sheer determination. Find out how you can, too!
There are those of us that do good in the world and then there are those who make it their life mission to invoke positive change by creating movements. We known them as change-makers. Alexis Jones is one of those people. She knew from an early age that she wanted to be an activist. She may not have known how or what that would look like; but that didn't matter. In University, when she felt like her female friends and her didn't really share their true fears and emotions with one another, she asked if others would be interested in coming together in a safe space. What started out with ten friends, quickly grew to a packed house. And thus, I Am That Girl was born. Fast forward to 10 years of empowering young women and creating a movement that span the country, helping countless females uncover their passions and live up to the truest versions of themselves, she's shifted gears. With ProtectHer, Alexis is revolutionizing sexual assault prevention and educating young men on what #manhood truly means, and how they must respect the girls and women in their own lives. She's a force to be reckoned with and she's just getting started.
Melanie always wanted to be a doctor. She was going down that path, studying for hours and focusing all her energy on getting into that profession. But as life often does, she was thrown a few curve balls and her plans changed, setting her on a different path. And she's thankful it did. She had been volunteering and doing placements in hospitals, and what really struck her was how stressed out and exhausted everyone was. Even though she knew this, she was seeing the results first hand and it triggered something inside her. From there, an interest in mindfulness, meditation and figuring out how the brain connects to happiness and healthy living began to take shape. She wanted to know how to help others live their best lives and stay mindful in a world that is often extremely chaotic. Realizing that no one is perfect, she works at creating experiences that are welcoming to everyone - whether you've meditated before or not. As she focuses on completing schooling in a psychology based program, she gives talks to school kids, hospital practitioners and host meditative workshops at yoga studios. The desire to bring mindfulness education to the forefront of our everyday lives is what keeps her motivated.   
Negative self-talk can take you down a dangerous and toxic path, if you let it. It can lead you to meet the wrong people. Open the doors to jobs that don't serve your highest self. And make you think that you're unworthy of happiness and love. That's exactly what happened to Gillian B. But she found the strength within herself through yoga, meditation, spirituality and mentorship, to make the necessary positive changes in her life, which ultimately set her up on her own path of healing and teaching. She now spends her days in nature, studying spirituality, and mentoring others as a transformational and self-love coach. Through one-on-one coaching, workshops, writings and her monthly love notes, Gillian's current mission is to teach others how to love themselves, accept their faults, embrace the messiness of their past and push through their own limiting beliefs. Only through understanding, willingness to change and acceptance will positive transformations take place.
Life has a funny way of working out. When you have a passion and a desire to learn and grow, it's amazing who we get connected to and the opportunities that present itself. In Taylor's case, he never really dreamed of becoming a famous surf filmmaker. He just loved to surf and hang out with his buddies. He realized at an early age that he probably wasn't going to make the surf tour; but that he passion lied in documenting the experience. Armed with that desire to work on his creative craft, and a determination to create something unique, he traveled around with his surf buddies as they made a name for themselves on the tour, and began filming their sessions. What may have started as a hobby, quickly turned into a career. His production company, Poor Specimen, played a role in launching many popular bands careers like Blink 182, Pennywise and Jack Johnson, as well as many surfers in their early days. You may not find him at the beach these days; but Taylor is always focused on exploring new creative outlets, moving around the world every seven years, and getting out of his comfort zone. Ask yourself- what are you doing to feel younger?  
Do you worry about money and your future? Are you constantly blaming yourself when you work hard, but then go and splurge on something you probably didn't need? I'm sure this is everyone. And the blame game, guilty conscience is a real thing when it comes to our finances. There's the whole 'work hard, play hard' mentality; but that could be dangerous if taken literally. You may not have enough money to live in the end. Especially in a volatile economy. But it's important to also remember that if all you do your whole life is save, then you aren't really living. And that's not ideal either. That's why Shannon created The New School of Finance after leaving her corporate job. She wanted to address our money worries and provide advice and training for those who weren't really benefiting from the traditional advisor system. The New School of Finance is a pay-as-you go model, where entrepreneurs, and Canadians of all walks of life can go to get their finances in order. And what she's building is a game changer for us all! 
Life doesn't always turn out how we plan. And that's OK, because everything we do is a learning experience. When Christina Hug moved from Toronto to San Francisco to work in the tech and startup field, she hustled to land a 'dream job.' The experience and knowledge she gained from that career opportunity was invaluable; but it was also leading to burnout and a lack of social life. To counter that feeling, she made a pack with herself to get out once a week and have a 'date night' with herself, forcing her to get in touch with her creative side, which would ultimately bring out her inner maker. She signed up for drawing classes, paint nights and DIY programs that taught her a new skill. The opportunities were endless. However, upon returning to Toronto, she knew that she wanted to continue with being apart of a maker community; but it wasn't so clear how to do that. So she researched, spoke to local makers to find out their needs and launched Makers Nation - an online platform that designs resources to expose people to cool maker communities around the world, as well as unique events that bring together innovators, thinkers and doers to collaborate and learn together.
You know those people who have always wanted to be an entrepreneur? Those people who only talk about the businesses they've built or are building? Well, Tim Cormode was never that guy. This was not the path he thought he'd be on. He always wanted to help people and make an impact in some way. He knew he wasn't destined for a shiny office or the corporate world; but beyond that awareness, he didn't really have it figured out. With a deep love for nature and everything having to do with the outdoors, Tim volunteered for an outdoor adventure program in the States. And it was during that time, that the idea for what we now know as Power to Be, was born on a mountain ridge. He came home, got a grant from the government, reached out to relationships he had built in the past, and launched the first ever program to help people living with a disability or barrier access nature. Hear how Tim's grown as a leader; why it's key to hire on intuition and drive, over credentials; how their programs are transforming lives and where he hope to see Power to Be in five years! This is impactful.
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