“Performance and focus are measurement tools for your overall wellness”, Hasaan T. Austin of ‘Moving The Needle Media Productions’ and Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated

Performance and focus are measurement tools for your overall wellness. Your performance can be evaluated and traced back to what you did to prepare for the results of your performance. Likewise, what were the details of your focus plan for your preparation to prepare for one’s performance? More importantly, how did these elements relate to […]

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Performance and focus are measurement tools for your overall wellness. Your performance can be evaluated and traced back to what you did to prepare for the results of your performance. Likewise, what were the details of your focus plan for your preparation to prepare for one’s performance? More importantly, how did these elements relate to or impact one’s overall wellness? I believe optimizing operations in business is equal to optimizing operations in your personal self. It’s very relative.

As a part of our series about “How Anyone Can Build Habits For Optimal Wellness, Performance, & Focus”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Hasaan T. Austin.

Hasaan T. Austin He currently serves as the Co-Founder & Managing Partner of MTN Media Productions, LLC. and BPCG. Mr. Austin’s has a quantitative modeling, business planning, valuations, & process improvements career that spans 23+ years in the U.S. & Europe. He is currently Co-Founder of the Balance Sheet Enhancement Platform (BSEP+™). He previously founded HTA Investment Group, LLC. (HTAIG) where he specialized in valuations and creating business models to facilitate liquidity events for Fortune 100 Companies. In his capacity with HTAIG, he also consulted with start-ups, crowd funders, foreign nationals seeking VISA (E-1, E-2, EB-5, L-1) financial pathways to the U.S. Mr. Austin collaborates with various media outlets in film, television, radio, and social media to curate business content, entrepreneurship, investment banking related for production companies. Mr. Austin combines his business modeling and planning experience with his principles for productivity and cost efficiency and their connectivity to wellness to inspire better results. Mr. Austin founded Loyalty in Free Enterprise (“L.I.F.E.”), a cooperative that social impacts access to capital alongside professional athletes, entertainers, and influencers.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

As a child, I was inspired by this new emerging culture that was born on August 11, 1973 on 1520 Sedgewick Avenue in the Bronx, NY called Hip Hop. Emceeing, deejaying, breaking, graffiti, and beatboxing engulfed my childhood. As a child, hip-hop consumed me and much of the NY & NJ tri-state region. It changed my life forever. This new culture gave me my life instructions for how to pursue my goals and overall quality of life. Whether it was Russel Simmons formulating Def Jam Records into an eventual global corporate conglomerate brand, that still stands today, or even KRS-One dropping bars on “Beef” talking about health and nutrition. Or Chuck D showing me ideas about political awareness. I was being guided by a new culture and I wanted to participate in it in a meaningful way.

I was fortunate to meet some great people that were very generous and kind to me during my journey. One of my mentors, an entertainment attorney, helped me pave a path toward the culture. I developed an early propensity for creative writing, even writing my own rhymes. However, I knew being a professional emcee was not realistic. Therefore, my passion for writing evolved into business writing for business planning. I was very passionate about business, so it was very organic to transition into writing business plans. Writing was my side hustle and I had opportunities to assist people trying to communicate their business objectives. As far as I was concerned, I was a paid ghost writer.

Going into the 90s, the culture and art form began to evolve and ascend into a billion-dollar corporate machine. Meanwhile, in the community, rappers like Nas were becoming the new Langston Hughes, Puffy was becoming the new Gianni Versace and Jay-Z was evolving into the new John D. Rockefeller. I began to realize that lyrics matter. I was so inspired by what was happening in my community and I wanted to be a part of it. However, I was still trying to find my niche at this point. I had a lane, but I remember feeling like I wasn’t refined enough to make an impact. Meanwhile, the culture began to spur a global economy that changed the world as we know it today. The Hip Hop cultural norms, traditions, and systems that spawned from the 80s & 90s would go on to shape and reshape music, fashion, technology, and overall corporate culture around the world. This vibe was my lifestyle template.

Then after seeing the dot-com bubble of the mid 90s up close and personal, I began to understand economies and stock speculation of internet companies. This was my introduction to private equity and venture capital. I gathered a greater understanding of how to business plan and build companies that create value. At this point, I’m still searching and plotting my business penetration point into the culture. My inspiration sustained me knowing I would be a part of this culture and make a meaningful contribution to the advancement of Hip Hop culture.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

There were many people who played an integral part in my success as an entrepreneur. Some people knowingly mentored me, but most unknowingly helped me just by how they lived their life. My mentors saved my life. When I fell down, they picked me up. When I needed a lane, they carved something for me. When I needed hard advice, I got it. When I needed a soft shoulder, it was always close by. My mentors taught me that character and integrity is the real currency. I was told, “Money doesn’t make you rich. Relationships are what make you wealthy.” I learned very early in my journey to put people over money and character over transactions. It hasn’t been perfect, but it has worked out well for me thus far. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet many great people, in very high places, who have aided in the success of my journey. More importantly, I learned these relationships are made to be preserved, not exploited. Protecting my relationships are equivalent to protecting my assets. It’s a delicate balance, but that’s the discipline of it all.

I used to draft business plans for my mentor to help artists and entertainers procure industry opportunities from music to television, film, etc. I vividly recall sitting in my mentor’s office in the early 90s while he was on a conference call with Stan Lathan, an award-winning television executive. At that time, they were discussing the launch of their new comedy franchise called Def Comedy Jam. Stan Lathan and Russell Simmons eventually partnered to launch the critically acclaimed Def Comedy Jam. I was so inspired by how confident my mentor was talking to this executive. Mr. Lathan impacted Hip Hop culture tremendously. Yet he allowed me to sit there and listen to their conversation. That moment in my journey is so vivid to me. It gave me the self-esteem, confidence, and moxie to not be afraid of the moment.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

Mistakes? I got a lot of those. Too many to mention. However, here’s a funny story that immediately comes to mind though.This story is funny, but it handed me a hard lesson about the preservation of relationships. This story takes place during early 90s hip hop in Jersey. I grew up and/or around many hip hop artists. Writer, activist, actress, entrepreneur, and hip-hop artist Rashia “Rah Digga” Fischer was a friend. Rah, along with my friends and I were always running through the tri-state during the early 90s renaissance period in Hip Hop enjoying the culture. It was a very different time back then. A lot of hip hop artists, entertainers, and executives were very accessible. I like to think we had something to do with Rah Digga getting put on the map and eventually getting her major record deal. We were always running around 5 deep, real tight in the Hyundai hatchback throughout Jersey and the 5 Boroughs and Long Island. Whether we were running with Rah at Busta Rhymes house or going to Queen Latifah’s house, a lot was happening. I was very fortunate to be around these special people.

The story goes: we were riding around Jersey one day, blasting hip hop, and wound up at Queens Latifah’s condo. These kinds of things were very delicate, but we always had to be very mindful of who was with us because we were going to see the Queen. A close friend of mine came in from out of state and he was chilling with us that day. Honestly speaking, he stood out, he definitely didn’t look like he was from the tri-state area. All of us get to the house and go inside (except him), he ends up having to go back to the car for something as we walk up to the door. Then we hear a banging on the door, someone knocking. Latifah answered the door and it was John Ritter, Jack Tripper from Three’s Company. He lived next door or something. He came over asking for sugar or bread or something. I had to control myself at this point because I was a big fan of Three’s Company. Then there’s another knock on the door. I felt like I was in an episode of Three’s Company and Mr. Furley was coming from downstairs. Instead it was my friend. Someone else opened the door and looked him up and down and said “nah” and slammed the door on his face. Nobody knew who he was and as I said, he stood out, he looked different. Nobody said anything or did anything so my friend stayed outside the entire time. After leaving the house and heading back to the car, we realized he was so crushed from what happened, almost in tears. Needless to say, we all felt bad because we put Queen Latifah over friendship. The lesson I learned was to cherish and preserve the friends that’s been there for you before and after more than the people you meet in between.

The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?

Don’t be afraid to fail! Failure is an emotion like crying or laughing. Get familiar with the emotion of failure and how to accept it and use it for motivation. I was told a long time ago, “If you can’t manage your emotions, you can’t manage your money.” Learn your threshold for failure so you can develop emotional expectations to get you through challenges. Gain emotional intelligence so you can be more aware of, control, and express your emotions, and also handle interpersonal relationships judiciously. This will equip you with the necessary tools to endure and persevere.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

During the 90s when I was going through a self-discovery period. I discovered Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. It was, and still is, a popular book for self-motivation. It helped me clarify the principles for personal development, self-improvement, and self-motivation. Napoleon Hill’s “13 Laws of Success” became a mantra for me. I knew I needed a guide to help get me where I wanted to go. Think and Grow Rich taught me the laws of desire, faith, auto-suggestion, specialized knowledge, imagination, organized planning, decision, persistence, the power of the mastermind, the mystery of transmutation, the subconscious mind, the brain, and the sixth sense. It made me feel like I could weaponize self-motivation and give me a competitive edge over my peers.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

“Less is more” is more is my favorite life lesson quote. It’s a “minimalist” approach to efficiency. It’s an ode to living life and making decisions that are proficient, useful, economical, and cost-effective. This quote evokes the feeling of effectiveness for me and that’s how I act when I hear it.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

The pandemic alongside the current political climate has created great challenges for decision-makers, stakeholders, executives, investors, and the like. Everyone is being posed with the question: How does a post business economy or post portfolio management marketplace look like? No one knows, however what everyone is aware of is that volatility now comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Are decision-makers accurately measuring risk? Are we capturing everything that impacts a person or company’s bottom-line? Some people would call this period a “market correction.” Maybe! The market history taught us that there are always opportunities in a downturn. You just have to identify them. I’ve been telling a lot of people to “be strategic” about all the adversity that is surrounding us. It’s all about finding an exit strategy.

We are working on a variety of projects under our brand messaging: Entrepreneurship & Financial Empowerment through Hip Hop syntax and cultural norms. We have a national and international, rules-based rap battle contest motivated by literacy and business acumen. We have a docu-drama about risk and we have a workforce Development Program called: Decks. Rule. Everything. Around. Me. (D.R.E.A.M.) for business planning to your pitch deck.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to create good habits? Can you share a story or give some examples?

It’s important to establish good habits because habits are small daily decisions that I make every day that must be aligned with my personal goals and objectives. My daily habits and decisions help me formulate and sustain the lifestyle that I desire to live. Self-motivation is a daily habit/decision that must be deliberate. Self-motivation is the force I use to help me realize my personal and business goals and objectives. The “force” is my inner energy to make decisions. The force helps muster my daily actions, routines, and habits to complete tasks. Health and wellness is also a daily habit/decision. It’s my mental and physical daily habits that involve the consumption of nutrition, plant-based eating and harvesting, as well as core-based exercises like Pilates or yoga.

Health and wellness also involves self-care, which impacts my quality of life. These habits help create energy and the correlated focus that prepares me for my day. Value Propping is a daily habit decision. Value Propping is a purposeful and continuing habit. Value Propping helps me reinforce my goals and objectives to assure that I’m on the right pathway to success. It helps to identify value in people, places, and things. This habit helps me create necessary filters in my personal and business life.

Entrepreneurship is the umbrella of my “risk decision-making” habits. It’s a daily set of habits that drive my thought process to be sustainable as a business and items to be sustainable as a vegan. Entrepreneurship is the willingness to take on risk to make a profit. Risk comes in all shapes, sizes, & colors, so these demands require great habits to survive.

My “risk decision-making” habits involve using (4) basic principles for evaluating risk in my personal and business life every day. I always ask myself, “Can this risk be avoided, transferred, reduced, or accepted?” Writing is a daily habit decision and it helps me chronicle my challenges and uncover the traits of my challenges and find solutions. Writing also allows me to weaponize my daily thoughts into subsequent offensive and/or defensive moves in my daily decision-making. For example, writing allows me to see procrastination in what I’m doing and the need for contingencies in planning. In all, writing keeps me honest with myself.

How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?

My daily habits have not only played a role in my success, but my daily habits have saved my life. I’m a Type 2 Diabetes survivor. I’m also 5 years plant-based, so my daily eating habits are crucial to my ability to sustain my Hemoglobin A1C between the pre-Diabetes range of 5.9–6.4. Converting to plant-based eating to overcome Diabetes was only possible through a dedicated, daily habit routine of consuming nutrition along-side establishing a lifestyle/quality of life that is conducive to personal and business success.

Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?

One must know how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable so you can develop better habits in terms of adaptability. Change is constant, so one should be agile and flexible enough to adapt to change, and sometimes sudden change. When you possess things like adaptability, agility, or flexibility it makes it easier to develop good habits. You have more self-awareness and become more reactive to things that are not good for you. I automatically get into routines that align with my daily personal and business goals. Conversely, when you identify habits that are not aligned with your goals and not good for you, your defense mechanism should kick in. Your forces for good decision-making should kick in by default when you’re preparing yourself to realize your goals.

Let’s talk about creating good habits in three areas, Wellness, Performance, and Focus. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum wellness. Please share a story or example for each.

Wellness is a state of mind maintained for everything that creates quality in your life, physical, mental and otherwise. And that state is aligned with your goals and objectives so you can be assured of being on the right pathway

Performance and focus are measurement tools for your overall wellness. Your performance can be evaluated and traced back to what you did to prepare for the results of your performance. Likewise, what were the details of your focus plan for your preparation to prepare for one’s performance? More importantly, how did these elements relate to or impact one’s overall wellness? I believe optimizing operations in business is equal to optimizing operations in your personal self. It’s very relative.

For example, we are currently pursuing talent to join the companies. We are seeking individuals that can add to the wellness of operations. We measure a variety of criteria to evaluate performance and focus, like time sensitivity. We always seek candidates that will contribute to the quality of life of the organization and its stakeholders. We look at a variety of “non-traditional” criteria to measure, among other things, focus, performance, and character.

Naturally, time and the time value of money is a quality of life issue, so we look for individuals that are hyper-sensitivity to time and time management. It almost always is an indicator of someone’s gravity for attention to detail. We had a candidate that did well in the 1st and 2nd round of interviews, was very popular amongst staff, so they were a top candidate for consideration. However, they demonstrated unresponsiveness and time management issues so they were removed from consideration. Even though they were checking all the boxes for fulfilling the duties and roles, they would likely not contribute to the wellness of the organization.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

I exercise, cycle, do Pilates, and water my plants to develop my health and wellness habits. Additionally, I do many things to practice self-care, whether writing or cooking or listening to music. Entrepreneurship is a practice of ongoing evaluation of risk within opportunities. I have to evaluate risk in business opportunities so I can measure the time required to manage that risk in relation to its potential for profitability. I use my 4-point system to quickly evaluate risk from the beginning to determine if I want to explore it further. I always ask myself: What kind of risk is this opportunity? Can this risk be avoided, transferred, reduced, or accepted? The answer to that question generally guides my decision-making thereafter.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal performance at work or sport? Please share a story or example for each.

Self-motivation is a specific force I cultivate within intently to assure my performance remains optimal. I rely upon self-motivation to provide an advantage over my peers. For example, after pitching to a new potential partner, they mentioned that they appreciated the details in the proposal. I made it a point for them to see and feel my motivation for the project and that subtle difference helped me procure the new partnership.

Value Propping is made for me to evaluate and measure value that will optimize my decision-making. As we seek to add new vendors, we look to see if their DNA is aligned with the firm. We ask the question: Is there value proposition good and is it aligned with ours? Their value prop can be good, very good, but it may not be aligned. That’s value propping.

Writing provides me a pathway to optimal performance. It helps me uncover what may be dormant inside me. It helps me extract solutions to problems in both my business and my personal life. My daily journal is my daily optimizer.

As a leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?

Systems and processes are the building blocks of an organization. Every facet of a business is part of a system that can be managed or improved by applying simple principles; there is an interconnectedness. Your business systems are supposed to connect all intricate parts and interrelated steps to work together for the achievement of the business goals inside an organization. It’s a vibe, it’s the people, it’s the technology, it’s the system and processes, it’s the flow that makes up several management structures like accounting, legal, public relations etc. When that vibe is working and occurring, it’s an organic flow. That flow is set out to be maintained as a state of operational flow. That state of flow should be woven throughout an organization that is seeking to fulfill its goals and objectives; this way you have optimal alignment.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

This is a very interesting question. I’ll answer it like this, we believe that many socio-economic problems in many communities are rooted in the problems in the wealth gap disparity. That said, the movement to gain greater access to capital is of course a solution to that problem. But the access needs to be a part of a coordinated and calculated risk control of capital methodology with associated products and services. This would naturally trigger greater access to capital because reduced risk would equal more capital and more jobs in the marketplace. I’m talking about money managers, hedge funds, family offices and the like, adopting more risk management strategies to the deployment of capital for their targeted portfolio investments. Especially now during this pandemic, managers should be thinking outside the box about how they can reduce risk, safeguard capital, and put more capital in the marketplace.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

It’s a great certainty that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports and Entertainment do not have a plant-based diet? So where are we eating? If it was my choice of restaurant or cuisine, I’m certain I would convert the unconverted biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports and Entertainment. Nevertheless Jay-Z would be an individual I could dine with over a delicious protein and B12-based cuisine. He embodies my passion for Hip Hop, health, business, and family. These 4 elements should be the pillar of every community especially given hip hop is the largest genre in the world. These elements assure an ever-lasting generational legacy for people, both personally and in business. Also, they assure the preservation and advancement of a community’s culture through art. Lastly, these elements promote a necessary emphasis on wellness.

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