There are plenty of young, successful entrepreneurs that have a massive following on social media, but I wouldn’t ask many of them to be featured on Optimistic Millennial. Of course I want to share the stories of those who have taken unconventional routes and succeeded, but more than anything I want their stories to inspire others to move beyond their fears and doubts. Their stories should motivate others to take action.
I was thoroughly impressed by Gerard Adam’s track record. After dropping out of college, he launched into his entrepreneurial career. He started with an investing forum and other financial ventures. He was co-founder of Elite Daily, which was acquired by Daily Mail in 2015 for $50 million. Since this pinnacle, he has invested in real estate and seven-figure start-ups, specifically those with cutting edge technology.
As I spent time following Gerard on social media, specifically Snapchat (Username: @HelloGerard), where I was able to get a glimpse into his life, I realized that the most impressive trait of his was his desire to give back and help others succeed. Whether it was paying off his parent’s mortgage or giving away mentoring sessions to aspiring entrepreneurs on Snapchat, he’s devoted his time, money and efforts towards improving the lives of others. He’s recently launched a non-profit, Fownders, to help entrepreneurs bring their ideas to life.
Lastly, he’s recently launched a YouTube series, “Leaders Create Leaders”, where he travels the world to share the stories and advice of successful entrepreneurs to inspire his audience.
Because of his efforts to contribute to the world, it makes him an ideal feature interview for Optimistic Millennial. Enjoy!
K: If you could identify two or three key ingredients to your success, what do you think those would be?
G: I would say, it’s hard to nail it down to two or three, but definitely work ethic and leadership are two of the top ones that I learned early on from my parents that have helped me become the entrepreneur that I am today. A third that I love to always talk about is having determination and discipline. Having discipline is really important.
K: In your opinion, what would be the main reason that entrepreneurs fail?
G: The main reason.. I have a few there. I would say, one of the main reasons, believe it or not that I see a lot, is mismanagement financially and learning how to properly manage financials for your company. I think it’s really important to be completely conscious of what your company’s burn rate is, your balance sheet, profit and loss, managing your financials. It’s really important. A lot of entrepreneurs early on have mismanagement of funds and they’re not prepared for that.
I also think the mindset that it’s not going to happen overnight, that you have be able to fight through adversity. It’s going to take many years of being able to fight through many obstacles in order to get your business to a level of profitability and success.
K: As you rose quickly to the top, were there any big surprises for you once you did kind of reach this level of success that a lot of people look for?
G: There’s always surprises as an entrepreneur. You’re always going to be facing new obstacles. Being an entrepreneur is constantly solving problems. Constantly experimenting. Constantly trial and error. Any good or great product is going to constantly evolve. I think it’s not about any particular surprises, I think it’s just as a entrepreneur or business man or woman, you just need to be constantly expecting that things are going to change. You’re going to have to learn how to adapt and overcome and be ready at all times to do that.
Trust me, I’ve had tons of surprises, both good and bad. There’s been times where things happen where it’s a sense of luck. For Elite Daily, there was some articles where we were like, “How the heck did that go viral?” We won an Emmy for one of the videos – we didn’t think it would. Sometimes it works both ways.
K: Were there any other surprises that stood out to you outside of the Elite Daily acquisition?
G: It definitely happened early on in my career when I made a lot of investments into the market. I learned about the mining industry. When the market crashed between 2008-2010, I mean, it was a huge detriment to my family, to my friends, to the people who around me who lost their jobs, who couldn’t get jobs. That’s a negative one but I was able to turn it into a positive by learning and understanding how to hedge the market. To find companies at that time that could overcome that. It bred us to be able to have more opportunity coming out of that recession, to build small businesses again, to be entrepreneurial.
A more recent surprise, well as soon as I think of more recent awesome surprises, I think about the acquisition of Elite Daily. I have to say I have surprises every day. I’ll give you an example of right now. I truly believe in the law of attraction. Truly believe that when you put good energy into the world, that good things will happen to you. You can manifest positivity in your life.
So today, I just decided in between working and my interviews, to go and see a friend of mine, Dr. Daniel. He’s a celebrity dentist in Brooklyn. I just went to go see him and I had an awesome surprise. He did a giveaway today and he flew someone in from Indiana. One of his contests was to actually help a young girl who has had a tough time her whole life with a bad smile, bad teeth. She maybe couldn’t afford fixing her smile. Because of his contest he was able to fly her in. I walk in and now I see this girl and how much it meant to her that he is now going to completely fix her smile. It’s something that’s life changing. It was an amazing surprise for me today to be able to talk to her and see how she’s going to be able to use this smile to bring positivity not only to her life, but in how she will impact people around her. She can be more confident and be more of herself now.
That was just a recent surprise. Every day there’s surprises for me. I think when you live your life of passion, and happiness, of love, you look at making an impact in people’s lives. It’s really cool to see what can happen.
K: This is for the Optimistic Millennial readers and viewers, which is a lot of times people who want to go out and do something new, but maybe have a list of excuses or reasons not to, or maybe even fears. What would you say to those kind of people that want to do something new but maybe have excuses or fears or reasons not to?
G: I would say I know what it feels like. I would say I’ve been there. I would say, you know, I was that young guy who was told, maybe you wouldn’t amount to much. I’m not the smartest kid. Oh you’re a college dropout, when I dropped out of college. How do you think I felt? It wasn’t the cool thing to become an entrepreneur. I was one of the only ones out of all of my friends.
I went against the grain. I took an unconventional path. I had a lot of doubt in my mind. I had a lot of fear, a lot of uncertainty. Just the fact of me telling my parents, “Hey, I’m not going to go to college”, when they thought that was the only thing that was going to make them proud. It was a huge amount of pressure for me. It was scary.
Any time in my life that I’ve ever had that fear, whether it was me learning how to go public speak now in front of a stage of 2,000 people, or back when I was that teenager having to tell my parents that I wanted to become an entrepreneur and I’m going to drop out and try to make a life on my own. No matter what, any time I followed my intuition, let go, and leaned into that fear and just did it, I said, “You know what? Who knows what will happen, but I’d rather take that risk. I’d rather follow my gut. I’d rather take that chance and see what comes out of than not and live a life of regret.”
So what I’d say is stop making excuses. If you have that feeling inside of you and you think that way. Listen to it because it’s one of the strongest elements to becoming great in your life is understanding that little intuition inside of you that’s saying, “Do it!” Stop talking about it, actually take action and do it.
K: At what point did you switch from just enjoying the success of the acquisition and kind of reaching the pinnacle of “it probably can’t get any better than this”, to giving back and paying it forward because it seems to be a lot of what you’re doing lately?
G: For me, growing up it was a dream of mine. My whole dream in wanting to become successful was because I wanted to give back and make my parents proud. I wanted to be able to take care of them because I saw my mother working 7 days I week. I saw my father working 7 days a week, working hard, and getting laid off during the recession. I wanted to inspire my sisters. Take care of my family. Make an impact for my community and the kids I grew up with that felt like they were stuck in a bubble. I know what that feels like to grow up in a small town and feel like there’s not much motivation or inspiration around you.
I’ve always had that inner dream to make an impact and go back and take care of the people that have supported me my whole life. Once I had that acquisition – that was definitely by far, the dream come true. I knew in that moment. I actually had a moment with God, where I just felt like, “Man this is a blessing. You need to not take this for granted. You don’t know how much time you have on this planet. You need to make sure that you tell this story and get out and help people realize that this is possible.”
I was that average kid. I did have those fears. I did take chances. I have gotten hurt. I’ve failed. I’ve been down. I’ve had to get back up. But it is possible if you really believe in yourself and put yourself in the right scenario.
I ended up being able to luckily take care of my parents and help them pay off their mortgage. I was able to take care of my sisters.
Just yesterday was a big day, I was finally able to open up my first non-profit incubator. It’s a live-work space. Brand new building. We built it. It took 9 months. We built it in Newark, New Jersey, where my parents grew up. My grandparents immigrated to there. I had the whole inner city block of young students and kids that were there.
We’re going to help incubate them as entrepreneurs and teach them how to launch business. That’s how we’ll make the economy great again. That’s how we’ll help rebuild inner cities is by teaching kids how to launch businesses and help them building small businesses. Supporting them and giving them the resources that I didn’t have and maybe if I would have had when I was younger. Maybe if I had them I wouldn’t have dropped out of college. I would have been able to walk down the street and go into an incubator. It would have fed my passion to learn more about how to start a business.
That was a huge blessing and accomplishment – it was a dream come true for me. Every day has been about that. I’ve really found my purpose in life. With or without the business that I continue to want to build and investments I make, the number on thing that matters to me, that gets me out of bed every morning is paying it forward and mentoring this next generation. Hopefully they’ll do the same for the next.
K: Your newest campaign with the YouTube series, “Leaders Create Leaders”. Tell me about this. How did it come about? What do you intend to use it for? How can people get involved? Tell me all about it.
G: I always had a passion for creating content – obviously Elite Daily and I’ve done documentaries in the past, another business I continue to invest it. For me, I love video. I wanted to, as a thought leader, be able to create amazing content. I have an amazing network of entrepreneurs.
For me, I’ve always learned from mentors. One of my greatest mentors told me early on that he’s not an expert of any one thing. He’s an expert of experts. I think that’s one of the best ways to learn – from true experience. Yeah, you can read books. Yeah, you can take entrepreneurship classes. Yeah, you can follow people on Snapchat or social media and like pics with quotes on them. But the best way to learn is from mentors and people who have actually done it, from their experience. For me it was, how can I do that?
80% of content consumed in the next few years I going to be video. I have a passion for video. So I decided to travel the world, find the next generation of modern-day leaders, extract their story/their journey, narrate each episode as the Millennial Mentor, relate my story to theirs and extract from them their lessons. How did they become successful? What is it they faced throughout their life to get to where they are? Hopefully pull out some actionable lessons our viewers can implement into their lives.
The whole goal is to put out great valuable content. Help people get educated, motivated and inspired. Since I have such a passion for mentoring, I am working on a big mentorship program that I plan on releasing because I want to use some of the latest technology. I want to create a real experience for my mentees and the entrepreneurs that are aspiring. I look forward to announcing that soon.
Connect with Gerard
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