The Thinking Class: K-Swiss

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Photo via Kippered.

On Tuesday July 11, 2017, I was listening to Gary Vaynerchuk’s interview with Barney Waters (President) and Patrick Buchanan (Global Marketing Director) of the globally iconic brand, K-Swiss. Throughout the course of this 43 minute interview and call-in session, a lot was discussed. In particular, I was personally intrigued with the overall conversation on entrepreneurship and sneaker culture.

With the market domination of sneaker brands such as Adidas and Nike, Barney shared his following philosophy, “If you can’t be first, be different” (10:46). Barney also went on to mention that Nike pretty much owns the athletic category while Adidas owns the cool kid celebrity category. So…what does K-Swiss plan to do? According to this interview, K-Swiss aims to cater to entrepreneurs who are creating and leading their own businesses. In fact, as I’m writing this article, I just thought of the following idea:

In addition to aiming to cater to entrepreneurs, how about we add the category of “Thought leaders” to this conversation? These “Thought leaders” are those who aspire to create their own cultural movements and shift society through advocacy, business, education, health, social impact, etc. I believe that as a collective, the future leaders of society will be as diverse and multi-faceted as we have ever seen in the past. If I had to come up with a name for this category, I would entitle it… “The Thinking Class.”

Imagine the day we live to see the President of The White House casually rocking a pair of sneakers on a daily basis. What will these sneakers look like? What will these sneakers represent? Most importantly, what brand is going to be responsible for creating these sneakers? Due to my natural curiosity and passion for wanting to bridge the gap between brands, communities, and culture, I ask myself similar questions all of the time.

If K-Swiss is to really invest in the philosophy and process of entrepreneurship and thought leadership, I do believe that they can successfully create and dominate their own lane. Will the products have to be stylish and stellar? Absolutely! However, what is it that can potentially bring K-Swiss to the next level? Supporting the culture and lifestyle which they aim to engage with. Selling products is transactional. Yet, engaging with and supporting the development and growth of the culture and lifestyle around those products is transformational.

As Gary always says, “It’s thinking marathon over sprint.” Living in accordance to creating our own legacy is determined by our daily actions. When our behavior is in alignment with what we want our legacy to be, our true greatness begins to rise to the surface. So, what might K-Swiss want to consider doing to spearhead a new revolution of emerging leaders?

Leaders Create Leaders

Photo via Gerard Adams.

1. Ask Questions – I believe that all of the right questions eventually lead toward the right answers. Communication is vital and often overlooked. When brands express an interest in actually listening to and learning from their current audience and potential consumers, gains are usually made. Consumers always want the best products. As consumers, we would usually stay with a brand that receives feedback well and improves on something that we like as opposed to spending energy to entirely taking our business somewhere else. It’s natural, we’re creatures of habit…at least for the most part!

2. Address Challenges – With all of the challenges and problems that currently exist across the globe, what brands are endorsing and supporting the thought leaders across various industries who are working to address these challenges? There’s so much great work happening. I’m sure that authors, architects, doctors, educators, engineers, etc would love to be acknowledged, appreciated, and supported for the amazing work that they do on a day to day basis.

As Gary often says, “Every business and brand should be thinking like a media company.” I often like to say, “Content creates conversation, conversation creates opportunity, and opportunity creates impact (educational, financial, social, etc). As a consumer, when I see brands that align with and support causes which address challenges bigger than the products and/or services the brand sells, I feel more inclined to trust and engage with that brand in some capacity or another.

3. Provide Tools and Resources – In order to effectively address any problem or challenge, we must always be equipped with the proper tools and resources. This may include capital, insight, relationships, etc. I believe that the brands who are helping to connect the world are also the brands who are helping to change the world. One of the reasons why I believe that content production is so important is because it adds value in ways that products do not. Content can educate, empower, entertain, inspire, and inform. Audio content is just as important as video content which is just as important as written content.

Should K-Swiss become more than a sneaker company? Should K-Swiss become a media company who just happens to sell sneakers? Should K-Swiss aim to equip and empower thought leaders with the tools and resources necessary to shift culture and change the world at large? Should K-Swiss begin to identify and partner with organizations and programs across various industries and sectors such as The Aspen Institute, Ted Talks, SXSW, and Zeitgeist? Picture K-Swiss as not only the official sneaker, but more importantly a cultural contributor and supporter to platforms such as these. How might this look? I guess we shall see…

Lastly, it’s only right that I share some of my favorite looks:

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(Uh • Kway • Us) Aquaus Kelley is a forward-thinking Brand Strategist, Cultural Curator, and Educator. As the Founder of A Lovers Ambition Lifestyle Group, he specializes in identifying talent and creating opportunities for brand development, exposure, and growth. Aquaus has worked with companies and organizations such as Behind The Hustle, Cornerstone Agency, City Year Miami, and W Hotels. He is extremely passionate about bridging the gap and building value between brands, communities, and culture. His ultimate mission is to use his influence to project positivity across the globe and invest in the collective future of society through the arts, education, entertainment, and leadership.

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How Might We Start? (Curate Culture)

How might we start? Curate culture. Promote and support the work of others! Earlier this morning, I was listening to Gary Vaynerchuk’s audio experience podcast on SoundCloud when he mentioned the following, “There’s no excuse for not talking to the world, it just doesn’t have to be our thoughts and words every time.” When I heard this, I thought of one of the sayings I’ve been sharing with people from one of my videos on Instagram back in August 2016 which goes as follows, “When we share our message with the world, we begin to attract opportunities that align with that message.”

Let’s get out there and start doing something. It doesn’t have to be “perfect.” It’s impossible to improve, iterate, and pivot if we have yet to start anything. Curate culture. Curate lifestyle. We are all curators. Our life is a museum and we choose what we want to put on display. If we’re afraid to start a website, start something on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. Let’s use the environment, tools, and resources we have around us. Why settle for excuses?

For example, because I live here in New Brunswick, New Jersey, I was inspired to create a community engagement platform entitled, “We Love Hub City” aimed at promoting positivity and inspiring the City of New Brunswick, NJ. We curate the culture, lifestyle, and pulse of the city in which we live. This has led to many great opportunities to build relationships with people who I don’t even have to travel to see! How about that for convenience?

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Screenshot of We LOVE Hub City.

In closing, I really want to see people win. I want to see US WIN! I’m here to build, connect, empower, and inspire others to take action towards fulfilling their dreams. In order for me to continue walking towards my purpose, I must also continue to take action. Let’s take action together!

S/O to Gary Vaynerchuk, VaynerMedia, and Team GaryVee for continuing to put out amazing content and inspire the world to live legendary and leave a legacy. P.S…”Patience and progress is necessary yet speed and execution is everything.”

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(Uh • Kway • Us) Aquaus Kelley is a forward-thinking Brand Strategist, Cultural Curator, and Educator. As the Founder of A Lovers Ambition Lifestyle Group, he specializes in identifying talent and creating opportunities for brand development, exposure, and growth. Aquaus has worked with companies and organizations such as Cornerstone Agency, City Year Miami, Universal Music Group, and W Hotels. He is extremely passionate about helping companies adapt to culture and building value between brands and their consumers centered around love. His ultimate mission is to use his influence to project positivity across the globe and invest in the collective future of society through the arts, education, entertainment, and leadership.

Discover NOW: Alex Harris

#DiscoverNOW is our curatorial series aimed at creating awareness for emerging culture, lifestyle, and talent. Today, we are excited to profile Alex Harris. Alex is an emerging recording artist and MC who is currently based in Dallas, Texas. We came across Alex while watching Gary Vaynerchuk’s Daily Vee (EP. 180). After hearing his song “Sheets“, we were highly compelled to learn more about his brand, music, and movement. Needless to say, he didn’t let us down!

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With a vision bigger than music, Alex is part of a multi-faceted creative collective entitled, 3:AM Ugly. In an interview with Field Report Collective in June of 2016, Alex mentions that 3:AM Ugly consists of friends within his circle which he has known for over a decade. Some of his friends include, Nate Coop, De Marquis McDaniels, Eric Lawrence, Nick Gower, Barret Huie, and Amir Rofoogar. As a collective, their talents include production, fashion, film, media, photography and skateboarding.

If you’re interested in learning more about Alex, please check out his interview below with COSIGN magazine where he discusses his journey in music, finding his sound, and how traveling has influenced his creative process. We’re sure that there will be a lot more to come from Alex as he continues to build his brand and share his story with the world!

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A Lovers Ambition Lifestyle Group is a brand development agency that specializes in creating opportunities for brand development, exposure, and growth. With an emphasis on culture and lifestyle, the primary focus of A Lovers Ambition Lifestyle Group is to help companies adapt to culture and build value between brands and their consumers centered around love. Our social mission is to leverage the influence of popular culture to create social change and invest in the collective future of society through the arts, education, entertainment, and leadership. We are driven by AMBITION, fueled by PASSION, inspired by INNOVATION, and suckers for STRATEGY!

Gary Vee: Experience Matters!

Earlier this morning, I was listening to Gary Vaynerchuk‘s “DailyVee” episode 071 while ironing my clothes and preparing for the day. 8 minutes and 45 seconds into the episode, Gary mentioned something that really caught my attention. It goes as follows, “I thought I was unstoppable and great 10 years ago. I’m just better now. Experience matters. It’s just part of the equation. When we’re 24 and we have skills, we don’t want to think so. It’s like a baseball pitcher. We throw harder when we’re young but we’re a better pitcher when we’re older.” – Gary Vaynerchuk of VaynerMedia (The By-Product of Doing | DailyVee 071; 8:45).

There are so many lessons we can learn from observing and applying how Gary Vee moves through life as well as what he has to say throughout his daily experiences. As he very frequently mentions, it’s all about the marathon. Experience matters. Emotional intelligence matters. Legacy matters. Long-term value matters. Patience matters. Self-awareness matters. Sometimes we must make time to ask ourselves, “What game are we playing?”

Why does experience matter? Experience is seasoned. Experience is crafty. Experience knows how to feel the room out. Experience knows the importance of certainty and uncertainty, discernment and discretion, nuance and subtlety. Experience knows how to rest and when to rest. Experience is the vantage point which can often fuel our competitive advantage. As long as we continue to execute, hustle, and stay hungry – EXPERIENCE ALWAYS MATTERS!!!

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(Uh • Kway • Us) Aquaus Kelley is a forward-thinking Brand Strategist, Cultural Curator, and Educator. As the Founder of A Lovers Ambition Lifestyle Group, he specializes in identifying talent and creating opportunities for brand development, exposure, and growth. Aquaus has worked with companies and organizations such as Cornerstone Agency, City Year Miami, Universal Music Group, and W Hotels. He is extremely passionate about helping companies adapt to culture and building value between brands and their consumers centered around love. His ultimate mission is to use his influence to project positivity across the globe and invest in the collective future of society through the arts, education, entertainment, and leadership.

Brands We LOVE: Black Santa

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Photo via @theblacksantacompany on Instagram.

We came across  The Black Santa Company yesterday evening after noticing that the company followed our @aloversambition account on Instagram. Being as curious as we always are, especially considering our immense interest in emerging brands, culture, and lifestyle; we decided to dig into what the Black Santa movement is all about!

In search of discovering a larger purpose after sustaining a basketball injury, two-time NBA All-Star Baron Davis conceptualized the idea of “Black Santa” after dressing up as Santa Claus one year on Halloween. Realizing just how much of a hit his Black Santa persona was, he then thought to himself, “Black Santa can be someone super cool for the African-American audience such as a character or hero who we can all love and enjoy!” After identifying a real need to create cool contemporary content aimed at African-American and multi-cultural audiences, Baron founded “The Black Santa Company.”

The mission and purpose of The Black Santa Company is to inspire the world by building diverse characters and telling stories that reflect the change in culture. The Black Santa Company aims to create new characters, contemporary and engaging content, and high quality products celebrating diversity, fun, and positivity.

In an article courtesy of Blavity, Baron mentions, “This is a character-focused company that I want to use to expand people’s imaginations, we live in a world that needs a constant reminder of hope and positivity, particularly in neighborhoods like where I grew up (South Central Los Angeles).  I want to give people the ability to dream and imagine something different. I want to make people feel good about themselves.” In addition, Baron also shares that The Black Santa Company is here to provide a feel good and positive angle and spin on storytelling. “I just want to make people smile” says Baron.

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Photo of Christal Cross courtesy of “Black Santa Manifesto” video on YouTube.

At The Black Santa Company, they also believe that giving has no season. They encourage year round acts of kindness and want to highlight the people who do too. “Our world is culturally diverse. That’s why our mission is to create positive characters that embody the multi-cultural spirit of our society.” – The Black Santa Company

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Photo courtesy of @jennpilatessocal on Instagram at a #HashtagLunchbag event.

Along with The Black Santa Company, we here at A Lovers Ambition Lifestyle Group also believe that the power of giving and gratitude should be celebrated and practiced all year round. Every season can be a holiday season when we decide to live in accordance with a compassionate, joyful, and grateful mindset and philosophy. We admire Baron for stepping into the role of servant leadership and leveraging his influence to create social change in an effort to inspire the world. As another favorite guy of ours, Gary Vaynerchuk often mentions, “It’s time that we begin to make positivity LOUDER!”

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A Lovers Ambition Lifestyle Group is a brand development agency that specializes in creating opportunities for brand development, exposure, and growth. With an emphasis on culture and lifestyle, the primary focus of A Lovers Ambition Lifestyle Group is to help companies adapt to culture and build value between brands and their consumers centered around love. Our social mission is to leverage the influence of popular culture to create social change and invest in the collective future of society through the arts, education, entertainment, and leadership. We are driven by AMBITION, fueled by PASSION, inspired by INNOVATION, and suckers for STRATEGY!

7 Days of Wisdom (Episode 29)

7 Days of Wisdom is an original weekly video series presented by A Lovers Ambition Lifestyle Group and hosted by Aquaus Kelley. Our mission is to foster growth and create a community of success and significance. Through sharing meaningful advice, knowledge, and insight gathered throughout our daily experiences, we aim to empower, encourage, and inspire our community to achieve their most passionate aspirations.

In This Weeks Episode We Discuss:

  1. Work ethic (0:39)
  2. Quotes of the Week (17:22)

This Weeks Resources Include:

  1. Work Ethic of Super Successful People
  2. How To Master Your Beliefs And Self Confidence
  3. Gary Vaynerchuk on CreativeLive

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(Uh • Kway • Us) Aquaus Kelley is a forward-thinking Brand Strategist, Educator, and Music Publisher. As the Founder of A Lovers Ambition Lifestyle Group, he specializes in identifying talent and creating opportunities for brand development, exposure, and growth. Aquaus has worked with companies and organizations such as Cornerstone Agency, City Year Miami, Universal Music Group, and W Hotels. He is extremely passionate about helping companies adapt to culture and building value between brands and their consumers centered around love. His ultimate mission is to use his influence to project positivity across the globe and invest in the collective future of society through the arts, education, entertainment, and leadership.

7 Days of Wisdom (Episode 27)

7 Days of Wisdom is an original weekly video series presented by A Lovers Ambition Lifestyle Group and hosted by Aquaus Kelley. Our mission is to foster growth and create a community of success and significance. Through sharing meaningful advice, knowledge, and insight gathered throughout our daily experiences, we aim to empower, encourage, and inspire our community to achieve their most passionate aspirations.

In This Weeks Episode We Discuss:

  1. The Creative Gap (0:13)
  2. Quotes of the Week (13:20)

This Weeks Resources Include:

  1. Closing Our Creative Gap: Chase Jarvis

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(Uh • Kway • Us) Aquaus Kelley is a forward-thinking Brand Strategist, Educator, and Music Publisher. As the Founder of A Lovers Ambition Lifestyle Group, he specializes in identifying talent and creating opportunities for brand development, exposure, and growth. Aquaus has worked with companies and organizations such as Cornerstone Agency, City Year Miami, Universal Music Group, and W Hotels. He is extremely passionate about helping companies adapt to culture and building value between brands and their consumers centered around love. His ultimate mission is to use his influence to project positivity across the globe and invest in the collective future of society through the arts, education, entertainment, and leadership.

Closing Our Creative Gap: Chase Jarvis

In an interview on Episode 321 of Lewis Howes’, “School of Greatness” podcast, the award-winning director and photographer, Chase Jarvis talks about the importance of visualizing success for everything that he does. In reference to the work of Ira Glass, Chase mentions, “When we are first starting out on something, what we see in our mind and what we are actually able to create is our creative gap. Through repetition, practice, skill, self-talk, and visualization, our goal should be to close the gap between what we envision and what we will someday produce.” Ultimately, the practice of acknowledging our creative gap and moving towards closing our creative gap is what separates those who achieve their ambitions, dreams, and goals from those who unfortunately do not.

When Chase talks about closing in on his creative gap, he mentions that he believes he can make the things that he sees in his mind. This is because he has developed the experience, resources, and tools that have taken him years to build upon. As Malcolm Gladwell denotes in one of his best-selling books, “Outliers,” it often takes close to a decade or longer before we really begin to zero in on our life-long creative gap(s).

How Can We Apply This Method To Our Life?

Lewis Howes and Chase Jarvis

Photo courtesy of lewishowes.com

Are you one of those people who feel as though you are just not a creative person? Guess what…our personal belief is that we were all created therefore we are all creative. We can all create a vision. Our lives are a creative process. As Gary Vaynerchuk would say, we can all reverse engineer our ideal outcome. If our creative gap is unfulfilled, most likely we will be unfulfilled! Think about the impact this has on our careers, lives, and relationships. This causes us to think, what is the correlation between lacking creative fulfillment and living an unsatisfied life? How might our creative gap affect our economic, educational, and social gaps? This may serve as a great hypothesis for a research study. Stay tuned, we’ll keep you posted!

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(Uh • Kway • Us) Aquaus Kelley is a forward-thinking Brand Strategist, Educator, and Music Publisher. As the Founder of A Lovers Ambition Lifestyle Group, he specializes in identifying talent and creating opportunities for brand development, exposure, and growth. Aquaus has worked with companies and organizations such as Cornerstone Agency, City Year Miami, Universal Music Group, and W Hotels. He is extremely passionate about helping companies adapt to culture and building value between brands and their consumers centered around love. His ultimate mission is to use his influence to project positivity across the globe and invest in the collective future of society through the arts, education, entertainment, and leadership.

7 Days Of Wisdom (Episode 26)

7 Days of Wisdom is an original weekly video series presented by A Lovers Ambition Lifestyle Group and hosted by Aquaus Kelley. Our mission is to foster growth and create a community of success and significance. Through sharing meaningful advice, knowledge, and insight gathered throughout our daily experiences, we aim to empower, encourage, and inspire our community to achieve their most passionate aspirations.

In This Weeks Episode We Discuss:

  • Quotes of the Week (1:07)

This Weeks Resources Include:

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(Uh • Kway • Us) Aquaus Kelley is a forward-thinking Brand Strategist, Educator, and Music Publisher. As the Founder of A Lovers Ambition Lifestyle Group, he specializes in identifying talent and creating opportunities for brand development, exposure, and growth. Aquaus has worked with companies and organizations such as Cornerstone Agency, City Year Miami, Universal Music Group, and W Hotels. He is extremely passionate about helping companies adapt to culture and building value between brands and their consumers centered around love. His ultimate mission is to use his influence to project positivity across the globe and invest in the collective future of society through the arts, education, entertainment, and leadership.

3 Ways We Can Be Just Like Gary Vee!

In February of 2016, LinkedIn hosted it’s local edition of the LinkedIn Speaker Series in NYC. The purpose of LinkedIn’s local edition is to extend it’s global speaker series program through highlighting local rockstars who inspire and inform people to spark conversations and start connections. These conversations are often the result of many of the amazing ideas that are new, next, and noteworthy across various industries and fields.

In this edition of LinkedIn’s Local Speaker Series, one of our favorite guys and LinkedIn influencer, Gary Vaynerchuk chats with LinkedIn’s Senior News Editor, Chip Cutter. Throughout this discussion, Gary offers his advice, insight, and input as unapologetically as always about everything and to everyone within his reach. This even includes telling LinkedIn how their business can be better if their Snapchat account had it’s own version of “The Office” as an effort to make their brand feel more human. “I have very good intuition on what everybody is going to do a lot of times before they even realize they are going to do it” says Gary.

With so much more to offer, please read along for the “3 Ways We Can Be Just Like Gary Vee!”

1. Pay Attention:

One of the reasons why Gary has a very good intuition on what everyone is going to do a lot of times before they even realize they are going to do it is because he pays very close attention to his environment. “Everyone can do what I do.” says Gary. “I wake-up in the morning, grab my phone, look at the App Store’s “100 Top Free Apps”, and look at the charts. That’s real data. I’m not predicting the success of certain companies. This to me is very basic. Don’t be a headline reader. Really read and listen.

2. Train Towards Opportunity:

“I look at history to repeat itself quite a bit” says Gary, “I think pattern recognition is extremely important in what we are living through now because the internet itself is really changing the game and we’re still only 20 years into it.” We have to condition ourselves and train for our future. It’s as if we’re preparing for a marathon. Our life’s destiny is always on the line. We must develop the cadence and context to prepare ourselves for openings and opportunities when they present themselves. “When we know what we want for our lives and we make that shift at all costs, we win” says Gary, “Playing a game that doesn’t map what we actually want it to be is a really big mistake.”

3. Reverse Engineer Everything:

“I sell a ton of stuff by following the people who I want to sell to on social networks, figuring out what they like in the world, and using that information as a way to sell them” says Gary. It’s all about learning from your lead and selling what they need. Gary also mentions that we must eliminate romance. “It’s important to understand what they care about more than what you care about” says Gary, “Build a business that allows you to scale your capabilities and passions. Be a practitioner and engage yourself in what you do. Recognize Patterns. There will be a lot of money to be made if we can buy the companies that we know the big companies in the world are going to have to buy to be successful” says Gary.

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Photo courtesy of garyvaynerchuk.com

Quotes We Love

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(Uh • Kway • Us) Aquaus Kelley is a forward-thinking Brand Strategist, Educator, and Music Publisher. As the Founder of A Lovers Ambition Lifestyle Group, he specializes in identifying talent and creating opportunities for brand development, exposure, and growth. Aquaus has worked with companies and organizations such as Cornerstone Agency, City Year Miami, Universal Music Group, and W Hotels. He is extremely passionate about helping companies adapt to culture and building value between brands and their consumers centered around love. His ultimate mission is to use his influence to project positivity across the globe and invest in the collective future of society through the arts, education, entertainment, and leadership.