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, curator, and educator. As the Founder of A Lovers Ambition Lifestyle Group, he specializes in identifying talent and creating opportunities for brand development and social impact. 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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We Are The CHANGE!

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Photo via @welovehubcity taken by Dewon Wilson.

Every day we wake up is a day where we are given an opportunity to answer the following question, “How might we go about making our world a better place?”

We all have different duties and hold different positions, roles, and responsibilities throughout this massive planet: We are activists. We are artists. We are builders. We are creators. We are doctors. We are educators. We are entrepreneurs. We are fighters. We are lawyers. We are leaders. We are CHANGE!

Regardless of our “title”, we are absolutely the change we wish to see in the world. When we see a challenge, it is up to us to utilize whatever skills, talents, and resources we can bring to the table to address the challenges we see around us. Although as individuals we may fail to solve many, as communities working together, we can and will eventually find solutions to our challenges.

We are the exact CHANGE we’re looking for!

What are we doing TODAY to manifest our GREATEST potential?

Words inspired by Keith Jones II.

Photography by Dewon Wilson of Dewon Wilson Photography.

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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.

The Story Behind: #WeLOVEHubCity!

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Preface!

On July 19, 2015, I asked myself the following question, “Where can we create a global community for those who express an interest in changing the world?” As big and futuristic of an idea as this may sound, please allow me to express how we can begin to manifest our ideal thoughts into ideal actions. Here are the two magic words, “START LOCAL.”

On Saturday May 28, 2016 at 4:18 am, I recorded a voice memo detailing my ideas and thoughts on the impact and importance of starting local. This came after sending an email over to Anand Patel. Anand happens to be the co-owner of Hidden Grounds Coffee, a local business here in New Brunswick, NJ.

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In October of 2013, I interviewed Anand for behindthehustle.com. We sat down to discuss both the hardships and successes that come with opening up a new business. Since then, I have made an effort to stay informed of what’s going on at Hidden Grounds.

The email that I sent to Anand was in reference to 365 by Whole Foods, “Friends of 365” program. This is an entrepreneurial move aimed to incorporate a sense of localized, independent, and creative entrepreneurial spirit by installing third-party vendors inside of its 365 by Whole Foods stores. A few minutes after I sent this email, I had an instant epiphany…”START LOCAL.”

Why Start Local? Proximity Matters!

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On January 2, 2016, I posted a video of Bryan Stevenson’s 2015 Zeitgeist Minds talk. Here he discussed the importance of being proximate to the problems in our world. “Proximity teaches us things that we cannot learn from a distance” Stevenson says. “When we get proximate to problems, we see things and hear nuances and details that we cannot see from a distance. In order to solve problems and create breakthroughs, we must get very close and inside of the problems that we intend to solve.” Starting local enables us to foster closer and more intimate relationships in the communities which we serve.

I Thought To Myself!

“With so many local businesses, companies, organizations, and schools here in the City of New Brunswick, how can I leverage my talents in an effort to add value to my local community at large?”

Naturally, my first instinct was to go to social media. I went straight to Twitter and Instagram to search for local businesses, companies, and organizations in the New Brunswick area. For some reason, I decided to check out New Brunswick’s Hyatt Hotel on Twitter.

@HyattNewBruns (517 Followers)

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After viewing their profile, I immediately thought to myself, “Why does the Hyatt only have 517 followers?” I was then curious to see how much of a brand presence our city government and school district had on their social media profiles as well.

@CityofNewBruns (4,311 Followers)

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@nbpschools (268 followers)

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Seeing these numbers were highly intriguing! Not only did I begin to see a trend, more importantly, I began to see an opportunity. According to U.S. Census data, the City of New Brunswick’s population is roughly around 57,000 residents. If this is the case, I asked myself the following question: “How might our local businesses, government agencies, and schools do a better job in regards to engaging with our community?”

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Living In The City!

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As a graduate of Rutgers University, a resident in the City of New Brunswick, and a substitute teacher throughout New Brunswick Public Schools, I feel as though I am extremely proximate to the diverse culture and lifestyle New Brunswick has to offer. However, along with the great potential of our city will come challenges. One immediate challenge that I have observed over the years, is a lack of awareness when it comes to business, community, education, and government initiatives. In a city with roughly around 57,000 residents, how might we do a better job in regards to reaching and engaging with our community?

The Power of Social Media!

In an age where both digital and social media presence move the world, I believe that our online platforms are the single most important places for businesses, communities, schools, and government agencies to connect and meet at scale. This leads me to my BIG ESSENTIAL question:

How might we leverage digital and social media platforms to bridge the gap between business, community culture, education, and government?

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Introducing: The #WeLOVEHubCity Initiative! 

The #WeLOVEHubCity initiative is a solution to our problem. This initiative is essentially the culmination of the last 5 years of my life. Since graduating from Rutgers University in May of 2011, I have worked on numerous community service initiatives as a City Year Corps member while living in Miami, FL. While in Miami, I also spent my “free” time working as a field marketing rep for Cornerstone Agency. I owe it to Cornerstone for introducing me to the world of branding, entertainment marketing, and promotion. When I returned back to New Jersey in late 2012, I began to work for New Brunswick Public Schools as a Substitute Teacher.

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The combination of all of these unique experiences is ultimately what I feel enabled me to develop the #WeLOVEHubCity initiative. My love for culture, community, education, entertainment, and leadership are just a few things that I feel fuel me with the passion to pursue an initiative of this capacity. Through digital and social media curation, our mission is to bridge the gap between business, community culture, education, and government in the City of New Brunswick, NJ.

Where Might We Begin?

Through promoting the usage of the #WeLOVEHubCity hashtag to our businesses, community organizations, government agencies, and schools throughout the city, we are proactively encouraging digital conversation and dialogue on all social media platforms. In turn, this will help to endorse healthy engagement, the exchange of ideas, and the increase in brand awareness for the entire City of New Brunswick. When we curate content generated through the usage of the #WeLOVEHubCity hashtag, we will then share it across all of our @WeLOVEHubCity social media accounts.

Where Might This Lead Us?

Our @WeLOVEHubCity social media accounts will serve as “digital hubs” for the intersection between business, community culture, education, and government initiatives throughout the City of New Brunswick. Imagine a digital community center that serves as the hub of Hub City. Imagine a place where we are proud to share the accomplishments, best practices, and talents in business, community culture, education, and government. It’s a huge win for everyone involved. When we are able to pull together as a collective for the City of New Brunswick, we will also begin to economically thrive across all sectors. This will serve as an inspiration for other cities throughout the State of New Jersey and across the nation!

Collaboration + Partnership!

If you love what you hear, we would love for you to hop on board in some capacity. We understand that collaboration and partnership is essential to the healthy development and execution of ideas. We also know that we have a long way to go and thus will need the full support of the New Brunswick community at large. We would love to begin talks to discuss partnering with the following community leaders:

  • New Brunswick Public Schools
  • The City of New Brunswick
  • Rutgers University
  • Community organizations
  • Local businesses

Interested in saying hello? Shoot us a note at hi@welovehubcity.com. We are looking forward to hearing from you.

Oh…we almost forgot. Please, spread the word and follow us on social:

Website: welovehubcity.com
Facebook: @welovehubcity
Instagram: @welovehubcity
Twitter: @welovehubcity

Cheers!

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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.

Blavity Presents: #EmpowerHER 2016

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We initially came across the wonderful work of Blavity over one month ago on April 10, 2016. Thanks to Lauren Miller (@cantstayput_), Blavity was brought to our attention when she announced on her Instagram profile that she would be speaking at their inaugural #EmpowerHER conference later this month.

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After looking further into the event, #EmpowerHER is a black women’s conference that will be exploring the impact of creativity, leadership, and technology on their daily lives. The extraordinary line-up of women will consist of bloggers, designers, entrepreneurs, and techies who all play a vital role in helping to shape today’s cultural movement.

Blavity’s #EmpowerHER Conference will be taking place in New York, NY on Saturday May 21, 2016 from 8 am to 7 pm at 404 Event Space.

The speakers will include:

Some of the topics that will be covered throughout the day include:

  • Using The Internet To Empower Change.
  • Growing Into Yourself and Creating Community.
  • Turning Your Side Hustle Into a Start-up.
  • Pushing Your Boundaries Through Exploration.
  • Owning and Becoming a Brand.

Here’s a look at the conference agenda and here’s where you can scoop up some conference tickets. Still lurking? Morgan has you covered. Use her discount code “blavityfam” for a limited time only and receive a cool 15% off!

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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 Leadership Principles: Michael Hyatt

This morning I was listening to the latest episode of Michael Hyatt and Michele Cushatt’s, “This Is Your Life” podcast. As I was listening, they drilled down on a handful of leadership principles and theories that I began to fall highly in favor of. Here are a few points worth highlighting:

1. Seek Significance:

If we have a dream that is significant, it takes a team. If our dream doesn’t require a team, then we’re not thinking or dreaming big enough.

2. Trade Safety For Extraordinary: 

Playing it safe never translates to extraordinary leadership. Risk on the other hand gives us great opportunity for extraordinary leadership if we know how to make the most of our opportunities.

3. Be Whole Apart From Our Role:

Our position is a role, not an identity. When we look for a position to complete us or to give us an identity or significance, we are already setting ourselves up to be unsatisfied. It’s important for us to know that we are whole apart from our “role.” 

4. Practice Self-Leadership:

Self-leadership precedes team leadership. We don’t have the right or the ability to lead others until we can lead ourselves. 

5. Create Happiness:

Happy employees make for happy customers. Happy customers make for happy investors. Happy investors make for happy CEO’s.

6. Sharpen Our Saw:

We have to take care of ourselves by making our emotional, spiritual, and physical health a priority. We must sharpen our saw and develop the skills that we need prior to fulfilling our dream position. The world is in need of better leaders who are purposed to be one.

Be sure to check out Michael’s newest book, “Living Forward” to begin living a life of passion, purpose, and intention!

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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.

How Might We Discover Our Purpose?

Back in December of 2015, I listened to episode 263 of Lewis Howes’, “School of Greatness” podcast. In this particular episode, Lewis sits down with Brad Lomenick, author of “The Catalyst Leader” to discuss how to go about mastering confidence, humility, and leadership. A little less than halfway through the podcast (14:42), Lewis poses the following question to Brad, “How might we go about discovering our own unique purpose?”

Here is some very helpful insight in regards to helping us discover, identify, and pursue our own unique purpose in life:

1. Identity:

Our identity is who we are. It consists of all of the things which we cannot change. For example, we cannot change our ethnic background, our family structure, or when and where we were born.

(Ex: Hello, my name is Aquaus Kelley and I am of African-American descent. I am from Staten Island, NY and I graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in Communication).

2. Calling: 

Our calling is what we are meant to do. It is why we are here on this planet. It is our purpose or social mission. In Victor E. Frankl’s book, “A Man’s Search For Meaning” he calls this our “Will to Meaning” (Pg. 99). If we are unaware as to what our purpose may be, we may want to start with discovering our own interests and passions.

(Ex: My calling is to lead people towards becoming the best versions of themselves in an effort to set them up for personal success. Overall, my social mission is to use my influence to project positivity across the globe and invest in the collective future of society through the arts, education, entertainment, and leadership).

3. Assignment:

Our assignment is our current day to day role or vocation. Ideally, this should align with our calling. When our assignment does not align with our calling, it may cause Noögenic neuroses. According to Dr. Frankl, noögenic neuroses is the cause of frustration due to the misalignment of our calling (purpose) and our assignment (vocation). 

(Ex: My current assignment is that of a brand strategist, educator, and music publisher. I curate content and develop brand strategy through A Lovers Ambition Lifestyle Group, I work with middle school students in the field of education, and I specialize in identifying talent and creating opportunities for emerging artists as a music publisher).

Think about it. How do we feel when we are in a profession that does not allow our own purpose to flourish? Once we are able to discover, identify, and pursue our calling, we are then better equipped to select and manage which assignments are best for our own ultimate success!

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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 (2015 Year In Review)

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. Our 2015 Year In Review (1:38)
  2. Quotes of The Week (10:04)

This Weeks Resources Include:

  1. Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl (Book)

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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 such as Cornerstone Agency, Universal Music Group, and W Hotels. He is extremely passionate about helping companies adapt to culture and building value between brands and their consumers. 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 6)

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. Synchronicity (1:13)
  2. Identity, Calling, and Assignment (8:00)
  3. Faith, Family, Friends (14:30)
  4. Quotes of The Week (17:09)

This Weeks Resources Include:

  1. Experiences We Love: Synchronicity
  2. Instant Wealth Wake Up Rich
  3. How Might We Discover Our Purpose

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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 such as Cornerstone Agency, Universal Music Group, and W Hotels. He is extremely passionate about helping companies adapt to culture and building value between brands and their consumers. 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 5)

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. Absorption (0:52)
  2. Leadership (2:18)
  3. Patience (5:30)
  4. Quotes of The Week (7:48)

This Weeks Resources Include:

  1. Conversations on Leadership (https://aloversambition.com/2015/12/02…)

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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 such as Cornerstone Agency, Universal Music Group, and W Hotels. He is extremely passionate about helping companies adapt to culture and building value between brands and their consumers. 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.

Conversations on Leadership

Here’s an insightful conversation on leadership as Director General of the United States Foreign Service, Arnold Chacón talks with U.S. Ambassador, Kristie Kenney about leadership getting things done, learning how to make a difference, and creating a mindful balance when it comes to developing ourselves as leaders.

When asked what qualities Kristie looks for when building and developing her teams she replies:

“I look for a range of qualities. I look for people who are innovative. I look for people who are ready to step up and make a difference. I look for people who can work well with others and also possess good interpersonal skills. However, above all…the quality that I prize the most are people who are passionate about their work.”

This was definitely a great listen. We really enjoyed this one!

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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 such as Cornerstone Agency, Universal Music Group, and W Hotels. He is extremely passionate about helping companies adapt to culture and building value between brands and their consumers. 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.