Decision Dialogues
Decision Dialogues

Episode 32 · 6 months ago

Rolling with the Punches


On episode 32 of Decision Dialogues, Mark Willoughby and Mindy Neira talk to Belinda Aquine of Sovereign Bee Events. Belinda has had a fascinating career journey, from working for a Spanish-language radio station in New York, to a career as an executive assistant, before settling on her current full time entrepreneurship as a wedding and event planner. She stresses the importance of networking and putting out positive energy in order to attract opportunities.

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Are you paving the way for the life you want facing decisions that may affect you personally and financially? The decision dialogs podcast, brought to you by Modera Wealth Management, presents personal stories about navigating through life's pivotal moments, narratives that we hope will inspire you as you create your own story. You'll learn what influence their next steps and gain insights that could help you with your own critical choices. Welcome to decision dialogs. Thanks for joining us on decision dialogs. We're thrilled to have you alone. My name is Mark Willoughby and I'm a principal and wealth manager at Madera Wealth Management. Jealousy. Today my colleague Mind Neira, who's a principle and Wealth Management Madeira as well, will be chatting with Belinda, a queen of sovereign be, and I'll hand it over to mindy to introduce Belinda. Thanks mark, hi, Belinda. Can morn hi more. Thank you for having me. I'm glad you could be here. So let's just let's get right into it. Tell us about sovereign be. What do you do? What do I do? Okay, so I am an event planner. Lately, I've just mostly been focusing on weddings, but I do all types of away events, from concerts to press junkids, to movie releases and mostly to weddings. And that's where I met men, right, the infamous two thousand and twenty wedding planning. So, yes, good time, that was castled, that was rescheduled. How many times, Mandy? Maybe three times, three, three times wedding, three reschedules. Yeah, and Belinda was my rock during that time. So you're very good at what you do. Thank you. This isn't what you've always done, right, so talk to us about this journey. In two thousand and eight you were with the radio station, is that right? Yes, so I was a street team manager, right, a promotion street team manager, and what I handled was their marketing, like the marketing for WSKQ SBS. So they're a Spanish broadcasting system and the radio station in New York competed actually with Howard Stern. We actually beat him out, like in two books, right. So I'm proud to say that I was part of that seam and I worked there for a while and then I became an executives sistant and that's basically what I've done for most of my career. And so in two thousand and eight, we were talking, you know, the other day about kind of that journey and what it looked like. It was a tough time right recession came and what happened with the radio station? How did you get into event planning? So when the recession hit, I lost my job. So I lost my job at WSKQ. I lived out in Princeton, New Jersey. I remember you to compute every day. So for those of you that don't know, it's like about an or commute, maybe more with traffic from from New Jersey into the city. And I was beside myself. I did not know what the Heck I was going to do. I was like what am I going to do now? So one day I was walking to work because they gave me they gave me some like a bar like two weeks before I had to leave, so to pack my stuff and stuff, and I was walking in next door that was his flower shop and he's always see the flower shop and I used to always see, you know, fancy cars pull up and go inside and I'm like I'm gonna go in there, I'm gonna see what he does. So I go in there and I'm like Hey, I'm about to lose my job and I wanted to do something different. Do you have any work here, like, can I learn how to do flowers whatever? He's like sure, come in. So I started like an apprenticeship with him and maybe like two months in I said I'm going to start calling every artist that I know. I'm going to contact their manager. So I contacted their manager and I was like Hey, I can decorate rooms, and they're like...

...what? Back then green rooms were a big thing. So when you were Mark Anthony and you pulled into Medicine Square Garden, you wanted your room decorator a certain way. So you have that. You know that whole buy backstage before you come out of stage and and hang out with your friends and so far. So that's what I started doing. So and he was one of the first persons that I started decorating was Mark Anthony's backstage. So I started doing that and then after I was like, I don't really like this flower thing. I think I'm more of a coordinator and somebody happened to suggest I refer me to a wedding and I did my first wedding. I think it was in Long Island in the VIP country club and I did that. I was like, Oh, I like this, I can get into this, and that's how I started an event latter. I have a question I have to ask your man. Do I apologized go for it? Did you know anybody in the artist world before you started making those calls, Blenda or we yeah, at the radio station. I worked at our radio station, so I you had some connects. Yes, I did have connections. Yeah, I knew. They're their managers. Mostly I missed the connection with the world. They're ready. So the radio work actually set you up to have a shot at reaching some people. Yes, yes, it's it. So, and what did you do? Did you? You just called their managers and said Yeah, I just I just kept on knocking on doors and I was like Yigg and then I remember Mark Anthony's publicist. She was always very fond of me, and she was like yeah, sure, let me put you in contact with the people. And then I started doing that and I started doing like a bunch of all the Letino concerts that happen to medicine square garden. I would do the backstage wow and just thinking about you know, other entrepreneurs, he who might be listening in. That's really that's your networking skills, right. You just yes, they're calling people. Putting yourself out there, making connections. I always tell my son that that's that's, you know, besides having an education, if for those of you that which to have one, right, networking is the next step. Right. I'm like, there are tons of people, I always use example, that can sing like beyonce, tons of people. Now, do they have the right connects? Do they know where to go? They don't. But by networking, by me meeting you, you meeting you know, like I didn't know what to do with my IRA, right. So you you, you network with people and you learn different fields that you would not normally be be introduced to, right, or someone you might not know. You know, like I never knew about event planning when I were to the the radio station. I never even knew wedding planner existed back then. Right, I was fresh out of college working at a radio station. What did I know? I'm like, I'm just starting, like I'm just to know what's going on, and that job set me up for my life. I want to say because I'm here now because of because of that job, right. I think like everything stems out from there, like everything. And then let's so that was we're talking two thousand and eight or session. Hmmm, Jump Start Your your career into event planning, etc. And then fast forward to two thousand and twenty. Until that point you were still working as an executive assistant. Yes, so I always did it on the side. So I never I never took that leap of faith. And in two thousand and eighteen I was approached to do Mark Anthony's fiftieth birthday party, but I had to be a corporation or else see how to be an official business. I couldn't do it as a freelancer, right. So I had to have the insurance and all that stuff. So I was like okay, well, it's now or never. I'm like I'm going to get this birthday party. So I'm say I'm going to register my company and I registered my company and then I remember speaking to my boss at that time and I told him I was like, look, I want to become an entrepreneur. I just wanted to do this, I want to have my own business, and he's like, well, you need to have certain steps and plays, blah, blah, blah, all this stuff. Fast forward, two thousand and twenty happen. So I was forced to jump off the bridge and I swam great. So two thousand and twenty came Lost...

Your Dad as the executive assistant. And then what you do? What kind of decisions did you make in two thousand and twenty? So I threw any savings I had into marketing. I learned how to use social media. I was never a fan of social media, like I would post, but I never was strategic about it. Right. I would just post to pose, like Oh, here I'm in the park with my son, or I'm here having a party, but I never I never planned the whole process like I do now right, like you, you need to plan your content, you need to target your audience. So I use that money that I had and then I got an SBA loan, thanks to you again, Mandy. Hey Balinda, why don't you apply for this? And I'm like, I don't think I'll get she's like, why not? You never know, just apply, doesn't and I applied and I did get a grant. So I use that money to invest in my B business. I purchase new uniforms. I did you know everything. I have little like gifts. I said I'll gifts to my clients and I did the whole social media. I had somebody help me with like captionss like that, and that's how I blew up in two thousand and twenty one. It was like crazy. I went from day tonight. That's right. And he said, I remember you saying ten events and weddings were scheduled for two thousand and twenty and then, yeah, I used to do about ten events and maybe like two big corporate events, like and what? One of my clients was asked cap and that's the Association of composers and publishers, and I used to do their award show. It was held like every year with somewhere else, was like Puerto Rico, La Miami. And then another client of mine was Warner Latin music. So between those two and my little ten side wedding gigs, that was it. That's what I did every year since I started. Like I would do like little things like that, and then I went from Zen, I'm up to like forty five right now. For this is that's great. So and and this is all I do now. I don't I don't work as an executive assistant. I don't have part time job. I don't. It's wonderful. Quick question the awar show, Belinda. Did you organize that yourself or did you get help? Well, I do the logistics part of it. That's what I would do right. They would get the artists and stuff like that. But the way the day ran, it was me like the from the artist arriving on the red carpets where they're seated. So I do more logistics as far as in that event. Some events I do more planning. So you didn't have to bring in your own people to help you. You you sort of just yes, I work, cannot Gotcha. I usually what they give you know who they give me. Whoever they give me, I use them. M Now, so thinking about your current business and some financial decisions that you made. So you talked about one in two thousand and twenty, the decision to invest the money that you did have into marketing. What sort of decisions have you made since then? I remember you mentioned the other day maybe someone part time thinking in the future. Right. So, right now, I think, because it hit me as a surprise right, all this business coming in and then I realize I'm like, I cannot do this by myself. So I hired someone part time and now I'm looking into being able to hire her full time. So I'm going, you know, looking into how do you get insurance for your employees, how you put them on payroll? How do you have them like invest in a for one case? So like. So it's like it's a lot going on right now, but that's why I'm trying to do. It's like fake it, see and make it kind of you know. Well, you're doing a great job and just the for those who are listening in, you don't run these weddings and events by yourself and for the most part you're bringing in freelancers, right. So to yes, you do have a team that you know is works with sovereign be as freelancers, but now this would be a full time worker under your right. Yes, what's your team? Is Wonderful. So thank you. And so now what is all this for? Why make this business work? Why bring in the... or we are making? Well, I have a son that goes to an expensive college. It's a good that's a good motivator. I think I was telling when I was speaking to you the other day, I was like, in two thousand and twenty. I was I didn't have a savings for him for college. I didn't know what I was going to do. I was like what am I going to do? I'm like how am I going to pay? And he was like are you gonna have enough money for college? He's like, I'm get some scholarships, but so, you know. So we did that whole Fasma and I was like, Oh my God, I'm like how am I gonna do this? And now it's like, all, do you need any more money? Oh my are you good? You know. So he is my my motivator, right, I want to set them up for what I didn't have. Right, like I'm like, YOU'RE NOT gonna purchase a car when you get out of college, you gonna purchase a house. So, like I try, you know, I'm trying to set him up. So he is my soul motivator, plus the fact that I love love. So I'm I love people falling in love. I think that everyone, even though a lot of us say, Oh, I don't want a partner, I don't want to get married, or I don't want we all need somebody to come home to and just speak to. Write. Like, even if you live in separate houses, whatever, but everybody needs some sort of love in their life, right and now I'm not talking about parental love, I'm talking about love from another individual. So I love to see people in love. I love to see people partying. I'm a party animal our heart. I've been you know, I remember my parents there. I'm Cuban descent and they used to bring me to party is when I was nine months old and people are like, Oh, you'll lower the music and my parents be like, don't lower the music, she'll be fine. And thanks to them I'm a party animal and I could. I can sleep in any room with whatever the is going on. So I think that's what you know, that's what motivates me and that's why I like give I'm planning. I don't you know. The only other thing I would go into would be of counseling of some sort, because I've seen as well as I see so much love, I also see the other side of that when people do get divorced. So I do see that and I see problems from people are working to plan their wedding and I'm like, I can be a therapist or counselor right. I like to help marriage counselor before you get to that state, before you get married. Yeah, well, a lot of what you do involve that, right. So you're you're talking a couples, you're talking through things. So we need to make hard decisions as a couple planning a wedding. You're there to be that referee and bring some reason to the conversation. Sort of already doing that. Yeah, yeah, I am kind of. So for any of the entrepreneurs tour listening and what is your best piece of advice for them? When you feel it in your gut, go for it, don't wait, don't make excuses, just do it. I'm like, if I would have been doing this ten years ago, time knows where I would be right. So I'm like, just go for it, just take that leap, you know. And I don't have a support system at home, so I don't have somebody use. I don't have a spouse, so I don't have someone else. So like depending like oh well, he's making money and or she's making money, and I'm okay, now, it doesn't work like that. So it's just me and my son. So I took that leap of faith. So I just tell him just go just go for what you feel, what you want, and it'll all work out in the loan along those lines actually. To Belinda. I'm just thinking of you when you started making those phone calls after the radio job, and I think we see this in a lot of entrepreneurs. Can you talk about I'm sure not every phone call that you made went well, right, you probably got some nose along the way. What was your mindset about just making the calls, even though you knew? Are you experienced kind of push back from certain people? What was your reaction? What was your mindset? I think it's always been this. I'm like, everything's not for everyone. It's it works the same way now. Right, I get maybe twenty inquiries and out of those inquiries, five of them will stick, five of them will be my client. So I just keep going with the same strategy that I've been doing and...

...whatever's meant to be will be. So whatever is meant for you is going to come to you. So just because people said no, I didn't care. I'm like, okay, I'll call the next person and then I'll wait a little while and I'll call the next person or I'll find on network with somebody that might know someone like. Okay, so mindy knows mark. Let me speak to mindy. Maybe she can put a good word in for me and that helps as well, because sometimes you know you have mutual people in common and then that that all assist you getting that yes that you need. But just keep on going. You know how many actors get told no and how many entrepreneurs or told no and they still they make it. You know, it's really good guidance. I mean that's what we see from people who are successful like you. They just, you know, they know they're going to get pushed back from certain people and it just doesn't deter them to just keep on going. HMM. It's just like a bad review, right, like I've got a bad reviews. It happens, right, you know. It's just how do you come back from that defeat? Like what do you do? Like, do you do face it? Do you run? Do you give up? I'm like, I just face it. It is what have off days. Things can happen. Now, do they normally happen? No, that's not you know, if you would take it in a ratio, if you look at it as a ratio. That's not common for me, but it does happen, you know, and you just gotta pick up and keep going. And I think another just kind of on the same topic of networking, because it's such an important part of building a business, is you also connect other people. So, in addition to you're looking for your own connections, you're a connector yourself. Do you find that that has helped you? I have. I was just thinking to one of the gentlemen that I use for videos and I was telling him, I'm like, he's like, Oh, thanks for pitching me to Soandso, and I'm like so, who's so and so? What happened was I had a call with them, I pitched him as a videographer for what they were looking for and they contacted him. They didn't hire me, but they contacted him, and I'm like hey, at least one of us is winning. Somebody's winning in this process, right. You know? So and he's grateful to me for getting them that, but I never even knew that they booked them. So I just for people that are in my life and you know, and I appreciate what they do. I appreciate, you know, their relationship. I just put them on, as they would say, as my son will say, I put them on to someone else. Right, so I refer people that do good work right, and I think that that all comes back. Right, it's like that what we do at starbucks. What is that called? Pay Forward, pay for it. Yeah, I pay it forward. I've always been a firm believer pay forward, without the expectation that it will pay back correct, without the expectation right, but generally it does. Right, yeah, it does, it does. Yeah, I think that's a big part of it and a lot of people are scared to network and to go out there and put themselves out there and talk to people they don't know or ask for, you know, help or, you know, all the things that you're doing. But, as you said, even if you were told no, it's still worth it. Keep going. And something else that stood out to me is that you said you have a process. So in the way that you've worked with people along the way, building connections and making referrals, getting referrals, there's a consistency behind that. Is that what I'm hearing from you? Well, I'm consistent, is that I'm not just using people. Right, so it's not like, you know, I build true, genuine connections. It's not like it's not all mark. So you you work here. Okay, I'm going to speak to you, so you can. I don't do that. It's just it just happens to fall into play, right. It's not that I'm looking for specific people. I just, you know, you gravitate to certain people. When I'm at a wedding, people come up to me, I start speaking to them, we exchange numbers. It's not that I'm I don't even know what they do. They just like, Oh, we want to invite you to to our family barbecue, and that's where it comes from. So it's just it's my personality. I think more and I'm just tapped into that part of my person and I'm like, Oh, this works, this is this is who I am. Like before I used to I used to be a little bit more timid, like like I...

...think I'm too bold, right. So people would like get taken back, like so, she's too tough for she's this. Now I embrace it. I'm like yeah, talk, this is who I am. I'm a queen and I'm going to keep on going, you know, and I'm if they say no, that's fine, but there'll be somebody else that I'll say yes to. Me, you know, and you know. The other thing I'd add to Belenda, if I'm here on your right, and I think I am, is that there's no expectation on your side. And for me, when people sense that they've that bills, trust quicker with other people. Is is if they don't think you've got an agenda, that you're just being yourself and you're just trying to help people. I think people have a tendency to trust people like that quicker than if they think, all this person's after my business or they're in for some I you are absolutely correct. I have a little anecdote. So this just happened recently. I was introduced to a DJ many years ago, like ten years but only by a phone call. One of my friends like, Oh, I think you and this guy should hook up. You know, I think you do great business together this and that I wasn't into the wedding planning like I'm now. So I told her I'm like, I don't really want to take anything else because I have this full time job. I'm not trying to bring him more business. So that's great. Fast forward last year or this year I had a meeting and he had burned off and he has a cafe and I walked into the cafe and he looks at me and he goes, I know you, and I go and I know you. We never spoke after that, like you know, like we never spoke that day. We just giggled because I'm going he was working. Then he started following me on social media. One day says to me, Oh, come by my office, I want to show you my office space. If you ever need to have a big meeting, I have a conference room that you can use. I go to his office. His office is three floors. It's beautiful. It's like any planners dream and we create this tick Tock. We do a tick tock which went viral. When viral and we kept in contact, but just going back and forth on social media like Oh, I like that party, you did this and that. And one day he calls me and he's like, do you have an office? And I said no, and he was what, you got one? Now, pack of stuff up and he moves me into his office. I'm like what, what is going on here? And of course I don't ask any questions. That back my stuff and I go and and I've been there and I've been there now, what two weeks, but it's been an incredible experience. I've already had like three new clients come in because of it and I'm like, this is crazy and this all was from I know you, yeah, and I know you just never a no, wow, you never do. So one more question. Do you have a financial hardship that has happened over the course of creating your business that you've learned from, that you've grown from, that you want to mention or talk about? Credit? So that was one of my biggest financial hardships. I use credit like like when it's year goes to college. was throwing credit cards here, buying stuff that I didn't need it. I didn't realize the value of having a good credits for so by me fixing it, like starting in two thousand and eighteen, when I start of my business, it's helped me so much now right, because I'm sure I couldn't have done the things then doing now back then because I didn't have credit. So, although I'm not where I want to be, that's one thing that I would tell me about to protect because if you have a business, you can get a lot of credit to help you start. You know, if you have good credit right, so you can get a lot of stuff financed and you have a whole other set of doors that opens up for you. And how long have you been worked? So it's been since two thousand and eighteen that you've been working on thinking about someone who might be in that situation where they have bad credit almost feels like you can't get out of it. How long is it going to take me to get out of this? Well, I I still think. I'm like wow, this is taken forever, and I asked, you know, I'm always asking people and and they're like, it's just you just got to keep you got to... consistent, and that's what I would learned. It's I'm every time. I'm consistent, consistent, and it just it. All of a sudden, the number goes up and I check it again. The number goes up and I'm constantly checking it to see if anything is on there. And I froze it for a long time, didn't open anything, didn't inquire about anything, just so I can clean up the mess that I had, you know, but it's just been consistency and you know, you come out of everything right like. What does it make you breaks you right. So you just got to keep on going and the next step, after you you get past the credit issues Blenda, will be the savings. Is this correct? And guess what? Consistency is going to get you over the finish line on the savings mart and get you toward financial independence ultimately, if you keep going as you're going now. It's consistency is the key. That's the goal mark, and it turned up the key. Yeah, yeah, all right. So our last question, this is a fun one. What is the last decision you've made that was non financial? Last decision I made that was none financial. I feel like every decisione manage. I got myself a brand new Audi to an apartment. It's dumps all of our guests. Wow, yeah, nine non financial. I know. I signed up to dating site. Oh well, that's exciting, but there you go, offline. That'll do it. That's yes, and a paid one, not the free ones. That I'm serious about it. So, but oh, that's financial toob I paid for it. Right, no, no, no, what, okay, what's it's not? Okay, okay, all right, thank you, Belinda. Well, thanks very much to mindy and Belinda for letting US listen in on their conversation. We appreciate their time and perspectives and thank you, our audience, for tunting in. We hope you'll joined us next time opposition dialogs for more stories and successful business owders. So long for now. Thank you for listening to decision dialogs. We hope you found today's stories helpful for your own decisionmaking. If you like to listen to more episodes, you can subscribe on your preferred podcasting APP or visit our website, where you'll also find show notes and important disclosures. WWW. Wellcom forward slash decision dialogs. This has been a production of twin flames studios.

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