Ned Dwyer Keeps His Focus

Ned Dwyer dabbled in plenty of jobs including disc jockey, cleaner, and mechanic, among others. But while there were benefits in being involved in diverse jobs, he became so distracted that he was stretched too thinly so much so that there was no time to make any one job pay off as well as can be.

Fortunately, one of his mentors said that he should focus on a few things, explore their potential, and then exploit their profits to the max. He was asked questions like, “What’s your goal? What’s your dollar bottom line? What do you want to do with your life?” His answers were along the lines of earning money, living well, and then just enjoying life without the worries of a salaried man.

And that’s when he decided to focus on entrepreneurship, business development, and product development. He has not looked back since then and he continues to enjoy the fruits of his focus.

He was part of the management team of Native Digital, a digital company that provided digital strategy consultancy services, as its Director from 2010 to 2012. He directed its growth from being a consultancy provider to a social application and product development agency. He was at the helm when Native Digital become the leader Facebook application development agency Down Under with clients like EA Games, KFC, and WPP, among others.

In July 2012, Dwyer established Elto.com, a curated marketplace of marketers and developers dedicated to providing professional assistance for small businesses to achieve growth online. He has led and continues to lead the company toward achieving its mission of helping non-technical small and medium-sized businesses outsource small projects in a reliable and profitable manner.

Today, Dwyer has his hands full of projects so much so that he has ceased taking on new projects. He can then focus on the existing projects, thus, providing him with a full circle.

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Gail Johnson, the Pediatric Nurse Turned CEO Who Founded America’s First Leadership Preschool

Gail Johnson is the founder, president, and CEO of Rainbow Station, an early childhood education center that specializes in bringing out the best in every child. Rainbow Station empowers kids to discover their unique gifts and talents so they can “learn early, live well, and lead.” As the first “leadership preschool” in the United States, Rainbow Station focuses on development beyond academics. At Rainbow Station, children learn 21st century skills such as responsibility, compassion, and teamwork, qualities that will impact their lives in and out of school, and long after graduation. The company’s mission is to partner with parents to transform children’s lives and catapult them to success.

Johnson, a pediatric nurse with 40 years of experience, was part of the faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing when she saw how families struggled when their children had acute or chronic health conditions. One major crisis contributor was the lack of support services for these kids when their parents had to return to work. In response, Johnson created the Get Well Place at Rainbow Station to provide assistance for working parents with mildly or chronically ill children. Here, full-time a pediatric nurse cares for kids so parents can focus at work.

In 1996, Johnson and her team launched The Village, a school-age recreation program where kids can attend “town meetings,” study at the library, and participate in various recreational activities. At The Village, children are free to choose age-appropriate activities in a safe and stimulating environment staffed by professional teachers.

In 2010, Rainbow Station became the world’s first leadership preschool, adopting the initiatives outlined in Sean Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Happy Kids. Rainbow Station’s The Leader in Me program nurtures each child as a leader and seeks to develop the highest level of leadership and confidence in students.

“I think The Leader in Me is the clear gold standard for teaching these skills,” says Johnson. “It’s not only the best academically, but it also has the most entertaining lesson plans for the students, who will really enjoy doing this.”

For the past 25 years, Rainbow Station has consistently defined itself as a leader in early childhood education and school-age recreation.

Phil Pustejovsky: Successful Real Estate Investor Teaches Others How to Do the Same

Phil Pustejovsky is the founder of Freedom Mentor, one of the leading real estate investing mentoring programs in the industry. A real estate investor, coach, author, and speaker, Pustejovsky has spent the last 10 years guiding people to financial freedom through the power of real estate. Recognized as one of the leading real estate investing experts in North America, Pustejovsky attributes his success to having a mentor and believes that every real estate entrepreneur can become financially free under the guidance of the right mentor.

Coming from very humble beginnings, Pustejovsky was once homeless and living out of his truck for a short period. With the help of his real estate coach, he was able to become an extremely successful real estate investor and move into a waterfront mansion in Florida. After attaining his success, Pustejovsky wanted to teach others how to make money in real estate. In return, his students would have to agree to split the profits from their first several deals 50/50, so that both mentor and mentee would have “skin in the game” and aligned interests. This is very uncommon in the world of real estate investing education, but it works. Some of Pustejovsky’s most successful mentees have even gone on to build coaching careers of their own.

Pustejovsky has formed a team of coaches and mentors whom he has personally trained and are some of the best in the business, allowing him to lead a larger group of people towards financial freedom. In addition, he has created a library of free online training resources to help people get a better understanding of real estate investing. Pustejovsky has the most viewed real estate investing channel on YouTube, and his mission is to provide the most complete, accurate, and unbiased real estate education materials, tools, and strategies available.

Signpost’s Stuart Wall Helps Local Businesses Grow

Stuart Wall is the founder and chief executive officer of Signpost, a smart local marketing platform that empowers local businesses to build lasting relationships with their customers. Signpost helps local entrepreneurs get more customers, reviews, and referrals automatically. Wall launched Signpost in 2010 and has since led the company from initial funding to the thriving business that it is today. As CEO, he oversees all aspects of product development, operations, and strategy.

Before founding Signpost, Wall worked at leading consulting firm Bain & Company, providing strategic advice to Fortune 500 companies and private equity firms. He graduated summa cum laude with honors from Miami University with a degree in finance as well as a double minor in French and entrepreneurship. He subsequently earned an MBA with distinction from the Harvard Business School.

In addition to heading Signpost, Wall writes about the local advertising space for VentureBeat, Business Insider, the Huffington Post, and CNBC.

Jonathan Carson, CEO of Charitable Commerce Platform BiddingForGood

Jonathan Carson is the chairman and chief executive officer of BiddingForGood, a charitable e-commerce company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Connecting hundreds of thousands of fundraisers, cause-conscious consumers, and socially responsible businesses, BiddingForGood has pioneered a new shopping category called Charitable Commerce. The company provides a unique online auction platform where non-profits, schools, shoppers, and businesses create exciting fundraising events and ultimately raise more money for important causes. Since its inception in 2003, BiddingForGood has run more than 21,000 charity auction events, sold over 1.5 million items to 450,000 cause-minded shoppers, and raised more than $255 million for schools and non-profits.

As chairman and CEO of BiddingForGood, Carson leads a management team of seasoned professionals dedicated to positioning non-profits for the greatest fundraising success possible. With over two decades of experience in building and scaling for-profit social enterprises, he has started four companies with more than $175 million of returns to investors. Other than brief stints at Boeing and McKinsey & Company, Carson has always worked on startups. His last company, Family Education Network (FEN) utilized a unique public/private partnership model to become the largest education website. More than 20 percent of all school districts in the US built their first website on the FEN platform.

Carson currently serves on the boards of Taunton Press, the Lewis Institute of Social Entrepreneurship at Babson College, and The Trinity Boston Foundation. In the past, he sat on the boards of Net-Impact, National PTA, The e-Philanthropy Foundation, National School Boards Foundation, and the Small Business Association of New England.

In 2008, Carson was among the first three individuals to be inducted into the Babson College Alumni Entrepreneur Hall of Fame. In 2009, he was a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for the New England region. Carson is a participant in Renaissance Weekend, an invitation-only retreat that connects innovative leaders from diverse fields.

Amanda McClellan Helps Moms Make It Happen

Amanda McClellan is the founder of Moms Making It Happen, a business consultancy for women entrepreneurs with little ones. McClellan’s mission is to help mompreneurs create a passion-based business that inspires them, design a family and social life they love, and ultimately live the life of their dreams.

A former middle school history teacher, McClellan came across personal development and Internet marketing one winter day in 2008. Though skeptical at first, she quickly became hooked as she explored these foreign concepts. She spent thousands of hours in front of the computer and eventually became a master at the Internet marketing game. McClellan decided to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams and quit her teaching job after making an agreement with her husband that she would replace her old income within one year or go back to teaching.

In 2010, McClellan aligned herself with a network marketing company. Within 18 months, she was earning a 6-figure income. A successful businesswoman and a new mom, McClellan was making it happen and living the life. About a year and a half later, she had her second daughter, who was diagnosed with a rare genetic breathing disorder. McClellan describes this moment as her wake-up call – it was both the scariest situation and one of the greatest gifts of her life.

According to McClellan, entrepreneurship saved her family, because she never had to ask a boss for time off or wonder where the next paycheck was coming from. Her daughter’s condition was further confirmation that her passion and purpose in life is inspiring women to fight mediocrity by creating the life of their dreams. This difficult time led her to start Moms Making It Happen.

McClellan has built a successful passion-based business from home while raising a family and overcoming challenges, and she wants to help other women do the same. Through Moms Making It Happen, she shares her business and personal growth strategies and provides a supportive community for mompreneurs.

Sharon Schneider Helps Moms Get the Most Value Out of Children’s Clothes

Sharon Schneider is the co-founder and CEO of Moxie Jean, an “upscale resale” website for boutique children’s clothing. As a busy, modern mom, she knows how expensive babies can be, calling them “little consumption engines.” Like many parents, Schneider loves well-made baby clothes but tries to avoid conspicuous consumption and wants to raise her kids to be socially responsible. She has often lamented the cost and waste of baby clothes, which babies go through really quickly. To save time, money, and the planet, she and her sisters and friends passed their kids’ clothing around, sharing them as much as possible.

One day Schneider thought how great it would be if there were a central repository where she and her friends and family could store their beautiful baby clothes when they don’t need them. This person could keep them clean and organized and send her the best pieces in the sizes she needs when she needs them. This way, everyone would save money and waste less, while still having stylish kids.

That was the start of Moxie Jean. Since then, the company has been making it easy for moms to buy and sell branded, like-new kids’ clothes, offering a curated selection of beautiful pieces at consignment sale prices. Moxie Jean takes pride in providing only immaculate apparel that moms will be excited to receive. Guided by its upscale resale philosophy, Moxie Jean emulates the boutique shopping experience, from the carefully chosen apparel and well-done photography to the prompt shipping and responsive customer service.

In 2013, Moxie Jean was named the “Most Awesome Online Consign, Swap, or Recycle Site” in the Red Tricycle Totally Awesome Awards and received a Chicago Innovation Award as an “Up and Comer.” It has been featured in The Daily Herald, Mashable, ABC7 Green Living, Windy City Live, The Today Show, and more.

Aihui Ong: How an Engineer Turned Her Passions Into a Thriving Business

Aihui Ong is the founder and CEO of Love With Food, a snack box subscription service that helps consumers discover organic and all-natural snacks while fighting hunger in America. Each month, members get a box of at least eight unique, hard-to-finds snacks delivered to their door. For every box sent, Love With Food donates a meal to a hungry child in the United States. Members get to choose from three different boxes: the tasting box (8 or more snacks), the deluxe box (16-20 snacks), and the gluten-free box (8-12 gluten-free snacks). All boxes contain organic or all-natural treats that are free of any artificial ingredients, trans fats, hydrogenated oils, and high-fructose corn syrup. Love With Food has been featured in Fast Company, InStyle, Real Simple, HLN, and more.

Ong’s entrepreneurial journey began several years ago. A successful engineer, she divorced her husband after suffering nearly 10 years of verbal abuse. With a heavy heart, she set out from San Francisco to travel the world for 12 months. During her travels, she encountered many people who were living in poverty, who had no access to clean food or water.

Ong still hadn’t found the solace she had hoped to find when she returned to America after a year of traveling. One day, she invited her best friend, Sharon, to have lunch with her. After complaining about her life, she learned that Sharon had breast cancer. Ong offered to cook for her, an experience that she says changed her life. Caring for Sharon helped Ong realize that she had nothing to be angry about because she was healthy.

Around the same time, another friend, Flora, started a stir-fry sauce business with her savings. But after failing to gain greater distribution, she had to close down her operation. Infuriated, Ong was determined to help passionate food makers like Flora avoid this fate and succeed in growing their business. Ong combined her passions, food and technology, to launch Love With Food and connect food producers with consumers.

Jamie Ratner, Founder of CertifiKid

Jamie Ratner is the founder and CEO of CertifiKid, a daily deal website that lets families discover great deals from local businesses. For years, she wrote a successful Washington-area blog that helped moms find deals and new things to try locally. Countless daily readers turned to her for advice on local products, services, restaurants, and events because she is just like them – a working mom raising a family and always searching for a good bargain.

Ratner founded CertifiKid to fill a huge void in the daily deal space. Starting from the DC area, CertifiKid quickly expanded to the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh markets. In 2013, it acquired Los Angeles and Chicago-based FamilyFinds and Atlanta-based FamGrab to reach more parents and business owners. From being a household name in the Greater Washington-Baltimore area, CertifiKid is now known nationally and has been featured in several media outlets.

In 2011, Ratner was named one of The Washington Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40 Brightest Young Business Leaders.”

Anna Bance Gives Women Access to a Bigger Closet

Anna Bance is the co-founder of Girl Meets Dress, the UK’s leading luxury fashion rental website. The London-based fashion rental pioneer aims to make fashion accessible to everyone, offering women access to over 4,000 dresses each season from more than 150 British and international designers, including Alexander McQueen, Marc Jacobs, Herve Leger, Diane von Furstenberg, Stella McCartney, Victoria Beckham, Alice and Olivia, and Gorgeous Couture. Designer dresses and accessories can be rented for up to 95 percent off their original retail price, and Girl Meets Dress even takes care of the dry cleaning for customers.

Bance got the idea for Girl Meets Dress when she was working as the UK PR manager for French luxury brand Hermes. She lent dresses and accessories out to fashion magazines, shoots, journalists, and celebrities on a daily basis, and thought it would be amazing if everyone could borrow dresses for just one event and wear a different designer for every occasion.

Girl Meets Dress was launched in 2009. Bance brought her background in fashion to the table, while her co-founder Xavier de Lecaros-Aquise handled their digital media efforts. Girl Meets Dress now offers women across the UK, Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey, the Isle of Wight, and the Isle of Man numerous options for weddings, birthday parties, black tie events, girls’ nights out, prom, graduation, and all of life’s special occasions. The company has been featured in Vogue, Grazia, Daily Candy, The Guardian, Elle, and InStyle, among others.

One of Bance’s tips for success is to not overthink it. “There will never be a perfect time to leave your secure job, risk your salary decrease, take a chance on an idea which might not work – but what’s the worst that can happen?” she says. “You’ll go back to your previous role until you come up with the next idea!”