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“Try Your Best to Not Burn Any Bridges” The 5 Lessons I Learned Being a 20-Something Founder

I had the pleasure of interviewing Kadeem Alston-Roman the co-director of Full Force Wellness & Dance Repertory.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Kadeem Alston-Roman the co-director of Full Force Wellness & Dance Repertory. In addition to running the day to day aspects of the company, he also choreographs, teaches master dance classes and runs holistic wellness workshops. His work has been showcased Off-Broadway, on television and at venues such as Madison Square Garden and the Prudential Center.


Jean: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory” of how you become a founder?

Of course! Thank you for asking me to be apart of your series. When I first started out in the industry, I had a difficult time showcasing my choreographic work. I either needed to be a fierce dancer and work my way up to a choreographer position within a production or have an abundance of funds to showcase my work in festivals. I know I lacked both, so I decided to create my own thing. As I was in the process of creation, my aunt mentioned that she also knew another individual, one of her former students, that wanted to start a dance company of her own. She suggested that I meet up with her and see if we could collaborate. Well after meeting this individual who was Anginese Phillips, the current co-director of the company, Full Force was born! However, when we first started out it was purely a dance company. We have since then transformed into a holistic wellness organization that just happens to use movement as our base.

Jean: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I honestly don’t know of any other organization who does the work that we do. We found a way to successfully meld both movement and alternative wellness practices into one. I believe the main aspect that makes us stand out is that we have a dual focus in dance performance and holistic wellness. I have so many stories and testimonials to share from the retired woman who has multiple sclerosis and woke up every morning in pain but after taking one of our wellness workshops, woke up the next morning pain free to the career focused millennial who after taking our class realized he was pursing a career he was not passionate about, quit his job and is now happily doing what fulfills him. But the story that probably affects me the most is of the middle aged woman who stayed home most days and would not go out. She wore black clothes everyday, had psoriasis all over her body, suffered from depression and did not have a job. She just didn’t have anything to look forward to. After speaking with her about our class and a few months of trying to get her to agree, she finally came out to a class. We held six sessions with her. By the second session she mentioned that she had started feeling emotionally better. By the third session, her family told us that they started noticing a positive difference in her. By the fourth session, she started to wear clothes of different hues. By the fifth session she mentioned that her psoriasis started clearing up. On the sixth session she told us that her experience in our class was “better than two years of talk therapy”. She is currently employed, in school pursuing nursing and has joined a church in which she is very active. From stores like these, I know our work is deeply beneficial for others. I am so grateful to offer such an outlet to help individuals.

Jean: Are you working on any exciting projects now?

When are we not working on a projects! But I guess the key is are they actually exciting? Well, I would say there are two that we are working on that are very exciting. We have been partnering with organizations throughout New York City in bringing our unique classes and workshops into their environment. By doing so we have been able to help enhance the quality of life of employees and boost the overall moral and culture of companies. This was been super exciting not only because we are assisting individuals become their best selves, but we are also creating positive change on a macro level within entire organizations. Another exciting project is that we are in the process of creating an original dance piece for the students of Drew University.

Jean: Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?

When I first started my true journey into Spirituality and holistic living, I was introduced to an energy healing method called Pranic Healing by my mother Leslie Alston. My first teacher, Jeffrey Noble opened my mind, heart and spirit to the amazingness of these techniques in which I am uber grateful for. The first book I picked up to learn more about the work in detail was Miracles Through Pranic Healing. This book has changed my life and countless others as I have been able to employ the steps in the book to help alleviate physical and emotional pain and suffering of those who may need it. One specific story that comes to mind is when a performer injured herself by slamming her thumb in the door of van 5 minutes before a major workshop and performance. Instead of feeling helpless and not knowing what to do, I worked with her quickly before the event. In short, her thumb did not swell up, turn red or hurt any longer after I applied the techniques mentioned in the book. Truly a miracle!

Kadeem Alston-Roman with Anginese Phillips, the directors of Full Force Wellness & Dance Repertory

Jean: What are your “5 Lessons I Learned as a Twentysomething Founder” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

Follow Your Spirit/Gut – This is perhaps my number one most important piece of advice and lesson I have learned. Whatever you call it: Spirit, God, Allah, Divine Spark, internal GPS, gut feeling, it is always right. We are just not physical beings but have so much more internally and externally that helps to guide us. If we are able to tap into that successfully and follow the messages that we receive from this other Source, we shall be forever in the flow of what is meant for us. If we ignore or suppress this, then turmoil takes over our life. I have so many examples on how this has proven to be true for me. But one that is prominent is the time in which I received a divine message that I needed to reach out to a particular dance studio to hold our classes. When we did, it was a seamless process to be booked on their calendar. They promoted us within their mailing list and we had a nice turnout of twenty individuals. In addition to receiving an honorarium for teaching, one of the participants who took the class connected us to an organization that was looking for wellness programming for their clients. Although this was years ago, to this day we are still associated with the organization and holding classes within their network.

Trust Yourself – Although it is always good to get insight from others about various topics within business who have been there, done that before you, you ultimate have to trust yourself. There was one time in which an expert told me to say something specific to a business I was about to book for a workshop. Although it didn’t sound like it was going to work for me and Full Force’s goals, I went ahead and did it anyway. Well, after I mentioned what the expert told me to say to the business, they no longer wanted to work with us and we lost the contract. So ALWAYS trust yourself. You know you and your business the best. No one else does.

Network, Network, Network – More than half of our work as a company have come from referrals oppose to us having to apply for particular opportunities. This is because we network with various folks, not just those in dance and wellness. This has proved to be beneficial because most people only know of others in their particular field. So when it comes to a particular engagement that requires our services at say a gala, employee appreciation days, retreats, odds are that person we spoke to in finance or the non-profit sector or start-up industry only knows of Full Force that can offer that particular service. So they reach out to us!

Be unique – When Full Force first started out as a dance company purely, it was very difficult getting well paid work. Because New York City is so saturated with dance and a myriad of dance companies, especially top tier ones, we found ourselves lost in the mix. It wasn’t until we decided to add the holistic wellness component that we saw an increase in revenue and interest. This was because we found something that made us unique and valuable, something that no one else was offering.

Try your best to not burn any bridges – Sometimes things go badly, don’t work out at all and all parties go their own way. But this should be very rare. It is always best if things need to be ended, to end them cordially and respectfully. You may find yourself coming across that particular person or organization again in the future. I have found this to be personally true. I was once working on a project years ago as a dancer. The person that was in charge of the production wasn’t the nicest person and was cold. However, I was very respectful to her regardless. Now fast forward years later, I am working with her more consistently in another arena. Imagine if I gave her piece of my mind or decided to “tell her off” years ago, the uncomfortable feeling that would have been had on both ends. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have even got hired for the current position or I would have turned it down if I were chosen. Because I am years older and years wiser, I now know how to move forward in dealing with her persona. But if I would have burned that bridge, this opportunity would not have presented itself.

Jean: 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 see this. 🙂

Yes, Oprah. Oprah! OPRAH!!! I am in love with everything about her. She has such a big heart, helps others by wanting to increase their energetic vibration, runs a successful business and is all that and a bag of chips! If I had breakfast or lunch with Oprah, I would definitely cry for the first ten minutes. After that I would stare at her in awe for the next 5 minutes. Then after I get myself together I would ask her specific questions on how she balances her heart, mind and spirit in business.

To learn more about Kadeem and his company Full Force go to www.FullForceRepertory.com

— Published on June 27, 2018

Originally published at medium.com

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