Grind Productivity

My Year in Grind: Alan Philips

Alan Philips is redefining the idea of the hustling family man one day at a time. The rewards of the hard work he is putting in are paying off—his success in his daily grind and other endeavors are paving the way for him to become a superstar entrepreneur to watch out for.

While he’s the Chief Brand Officer of Turnberry in Miami, Alan was able to carve out time to write his second book. In October 2018, he debuted The Age of Ideas: How to Unlock Your Creative Potential

The book became a critically-acclaimed must-read, shedding light on the way brands and personalities are tapping into their creative potential, and why that matters more than ever in our society. Part of his motivation was his wife, handbag designer Gelareh Mizrahi. Philips was able to witness the hustle and grind his wife put into building a global fashion brand. And it inspired him to help others do the same.

As the year comes to an end, Alan was able to talk to ONE37pm about the success of his book, as well as the grind he put in during 2018.

Courtesy of Alan Philips
Alan Philips and Gelareh Mizrahi

What did travel and vacation mean to you in 2018?

Figuring out opportunities to integrate my work and my life. Really anytime I traveled in 2018, I was doing something with my family but also doing something to help with my purpose and my wife’s purpose. For me, it was my book and helping people and companies manifest their dreams. For my wife, it’s her fashion design and building her company. So if we went to LA, New York or Tokyo or wherever we went, it was usually aligning when some other opportunity that we had. And so that was traveling in 2018. Vacation in 2018 was really spending time with my kids and my family connecting on a deeper level.

What inspired you to use the backstory of some of pop culture’s significant moments in your book The Age of Ideas: How to Unlock Your Creative Potential

At the core of what it is I’m interested in and write about and what I want to achieve in my life is a balance in between personal fulfillment and professional achievement. And, I find that very often that that is a difficult thing to find and even more difficult to realize. The reason I chose those companies that I use as examples in my book, I feel they have achieved significant levels of professional success without compromising their values and what made them truly special to begin with. Easy to say, I want to be in finance. I want to make a lot of money. That’s a very specific goal. But to have both is the holy grail, it is rare and beautiful. Great examples are James Jebbia founded Supreme or the guys from A24 who took something they deeply believed in and weren’t able to turn that into both way to make money and the way to serve.

If you can compare a chapter of your book to your own hustle in 2018—which one will it be and why?

Part three of the book is all about self-discovery, you know, for me that’s very much an ongoing process. So that was definitely part of my life in 2018. And then I think manifesting my magic—turning my idea into a physical product that can shared, which was the book. My focus was to take everything I learned and believed and to turn them into something that could be a vehicle for my future.

In the art of the daily grind, you have major victories and major upsets. What were some of your wins and losses you can carry over to develop a bigger momentum heading into 2019?

I think my biggest win in 2018 was finally getting my book out and starting regularly attending Barry’s Bootcamp; discovering an exercise community that I feel can really support me in achieving my physical goals which will serve all my other goals. I think those would be the two positives. 

I don’t have any major losses other than time.  But I would like to put more focus on manifesting in bigger and more meaningful ways. Taking the message of the book and reaching a lot more people. 

It is also a constant thing for me to live in the moment.  I spend a lot of time thinking about where things are going, instead of enjoying that specific moment in time.  I just want to cultivate more of an appreciation to living in now and enjoying life.

What is your favorite piece of content you wrote for ONE37pm and why?

I think “Why Simplifying Your Life and Pursuits Is So Important” is my favorite piece I wrote it for ONE37pm because it’s a first principle truth, and I think the idea of “Telic vs. Atelic Pursuits” is a simple change that gives someone the opportunity to be tremendously more fulfilled. If you could shift from that activity that’s telic, an activity that has a clear end and is project based, to an activity that is atelic, something that is endless like learning to play the guitar or backgammon, you will be much more fulfilled. If you do things that are atelic they continue to give back to you and that I will make you much more fulfilled and more productive. That’s a very important lesson someone can learn and apply to their life easily.  Simple hacks like that can make a huge impact.

Culture News

Instagram Is the New Press Release for Celebs and Brands

Whether used to express outrage or make big announcements, Instagram has become the go-to outlet for celebrities and brands to distribute their headline-making thoughts and news. Just look at Rihanna, Taylor Swift and The Rock, three of the most influential stars in pop culture, who have leveraged the social network to perfection in 2018.

In the past, statements from stars would be typed into a press release and disseminated to journalists and wire services everywhere. Comparatively, the process was relatively slow. Now more than ever before—in a digital world where speed and authenticity of information are paramount amid shortening attention spans and venomous keyboard critics—stars of all fame levels are using Instagram’s feed posts, Insta stories and IGTV videos to reveal personal and career tidbits in an unfiltered fashion.

Let’s take a look at how three A-list celebs have proven Instagram is the new press release, a trend that will only be further solidified in 2019.

Rihanna reacts to Snapchat’s ‘ignorance’

An interactive “Would You Rather” advertisement on Snapchat, which asked app users if they’d rather “slap Rihanna” or “punch Chris Brown,” drew immediate backlash and a swift response from domestic violence survivor Rihanna in March. The nine-time Grammy winner and entrepreneur, who was just named ONE37pm’s Most Entrepreneurial Musicians of 2018, posted a message on her Insta stories rightfully criticizing Snapchat for allowing an ad that made light of her and Brown’s past and that gamified abuse.

“All the women, children and men that have been victims of [domestic violence] in the past and especially the ones who haven’t made it out yet, you let us down,” Rihanna wrote on Instagram while Snapchat tried issuing a public apology, but the damage had already been done. “Shame on you. Throw the whole app-oligy away.”

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After the offensive incident, Snapchat reportedly loss $800 million as users revolted by deleting the app in defense of Rihanna and as Snap’s stocks dipped in market value. Rihanna’s passionate public response to her more than 60 million Instagram followers, using only simple red text in her Insta stories, was more effective and more real than press releases of yesteryear and the move drummed up enormous media coverage on an issue bigger than herself—to help shed light on insensitive things affecting domestic abuse survivors. Rihanna has also leveraged Instagram to promote her acclaimed Fenty empire of makeup and lingerie with artsy posts and playful videos in her feed and stories, in turn helping her net worth soar to an estimated $260 million this year. 

Taylor Swift announces major industry news

In an important music industry shift, Taylor Swift decided to leave Big Machine Records, a label she has been with for more than a decade, to join the Universal Music Group family. She unveiled the news on Instagram, explaining to 100 million-plus followers and curious journalists that the fresh record deal also affects every artist at the label.

“I feel so motivated by new opportunities in the streaming world and the ever changing landscape of our industry. I also feel strongly that streaming was founded on and continues to thrive based on the magic created by artists, writers and producers,” Swift, a 10-time Grammy winner who has previously fought for fair pay for all artists in the streaming era, wrote on Instagram. “There was one condition that meant more to me than any other deal point. As part of my new contract with [UMG], I asked that any sale of their Spotify shares result in a distribution of money to their artists, non-recoupable. They have generously agreed to this, at what they believe will be much better terms than paid out previously by other major labels.”

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Swift doesn’t often participate in many press interviews anymore, opting instead to use Instagram and other social platforms to give her opinions directly to her faithful Swifties fan base. She regularly updates her Insta stories while touring to offer behind-the-scenes access and to thank music journalists for their concert reviews. 

The Rock gets personal with his announcements

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson not only adorably Insta announced he and Lauren Hashian were expecting their second child together at the end of 2017, but they followed up this news this year by Insta announcing the birth of that baby, Tiana. 

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In the past, and even sometimes now, celebrity media outlets would pay big money for the exclusive pregnancy announcements and first baby photos. But Instagram has put the power in the celebs’ hands to unveil their personal news themselves. 

And who knows? Maybe one day The Rock will take a break from his presidential sushi posts to announce his bid for the United States presidency on Instagram.

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Culture Gaming

2019 Gaming Predictions for ’Fortnite,’ Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft and BioWare

For all of the compelling things that happened in video games in 2018, many signs point to 2019 being an even more fascinating year for the gaming industry. With its beautiful games and hardware price drops, 2018 could easily be seen as the year that the big consoles hit their stride as the generation begins to wrap up. Though 2019 has many promising games in its various release windows, buzz has begun that we might possibly get a gander at what’s in store for the future of hardware gaming. However, don’t get completely caught up in the alluring whiff of new consoles, because the impending games look pretty darn good. The future is hard to predict, but here’s a short list of things that might or might not happen in the 12 months to come.

BioWare might not survive as a studio

One of the early releases for 2019 is BioWare’s Anthem and the future of the once legendary game studio might depend on its success. The last game released by the KOTOR and Dragon Age studio was 2017’s Mass Effect: Andromeda. It was so poorly received due to its many bugs and the lackluster story that production on its follow up DLC was canceled. In fact, the game was so bemoaned that many in the industry thought it put the studio’s future in jeopardy. Seeing as how Anthem, a service-based, multiplayer, sci-fi shooter (a la Destiny), is so far outside of the norm for BioWare’s story-heavy, RPG past, questions have floated around about how well the studio can handle such a divergent product. While it plays amazingly well, there is already a crowded market out there for service shooters, and if Anthem fails to capture an audience, BioWare might not survive. We will see what happens when the game releases on Feb. 22.

We might learn what the hell ‘Death Stranding’ is

There currently is no release date for Death Stranding, one of the four games Sony trotted out at E3 2018, but 2019 might be the year we can learn at least what the hell is going on in Hideo Kojima’s newest, bonkers-looking project. Though Kojima, booted from Konami and his Metal Gear series, has dropped several trailers for Death Stranding over the past few years, many, many, many questions still remain about the game. What is a baby doing in Norman Reedus’s mouth? What’s that flashy robot backpack so upset about? Why do people age so quickly? Is this game merely a parcel delivery simulator? Why is Troy Baker wearing a golden skull mask that turns mud people into a giant medusa lion? What is happening? I have no idea what the answers are to any of these questions. While my trust in Kojima is solid, my patience is not. I’m very much hoping we might get a few answers, a release date and maybe even a game in 2019, though we’ll probably only get two of those things.

We might learn what Microsoft’s many projects are

Microsoft, the solid second of this video game generation, has been busy. At this point, the gambler’s bet for when we will get new console generations is set firmly on 2020, and some details about Microsoft’s Xbox One follow-up have already trickled out. The names Project Scarlett, Project Scarlett Cloud and Project Lockhart emerged in the waning days of 2018. Scarlett and Scarlett Cloud are thought to be the codenames for Xbox One/Xbox One X successors. Rumor is they will be aimed toward different markets, equivalent with the current Xbox One and Xbox X split. Project Lockhart, on the other hand, is rumored to be a disc-less discount that will support only the current generation’s game and is positioned to come out in 2019. But, again, nothing is confirmed. What is certain is Microsoft is hard at work on the next generation, as Xbox Chief Phil Spencer said as much at the close of the company’s E3 press conference this year.

We might get frustrated with Sony

Sony somewhat shocked the industry when it announced it would not be present at E3 2019. Given that Sony also failed to hold its previously annual PlayStation Experience this year and that, again, it only brought four games to 2018’s E3, it’s possible to draw a few probable conclusions.

  • Sony is backing away from the mainstream shows because it’s not ready to show anything new.
  • This is most likely because it has shifted a large number of resources and studios into developing for the next console iteration.
  • Sony wants to unveil these at its own pace.
  • We probably won’t hear any new details from the generation leader in 2019.

My reasoning for number four is that Sony would definitely be present at E3 if it had any hardware to sell in 2019, and it wouldn’t want to distract from any holiday sales by announcing any new products that would make the current generation obsolete. In 2019, we’ll probably get price drops on the PlayStation 4/Pro, at least three of the four games shown at E3 2018 and not a lot more out of Sony itself. The frustration could very well kick in when there’s very little on the horizon for the millions of PS4 owners and the market leader closes out the year with silence.

We might get bored of ‘Fortnite’

I have absolutely nothing against cultural behemoth Fortnite. It’s an evolving, fun game, it facilitated competition to emerge in the Steam monopoly and it taught kids how to dance. And yet, I still foster this deep, morbid curiosity about just how long it can hold onto its grasp on video gaming. I’ve written a lot about what the future of Fortnite might be for the game, but it is near-impossible to predict what it will be for the audience. Gaming is built on flashing shiny new things at our attention-lacking eyes and there simply is no way of knowing whether the way Fortnite changes over the next year will keep its players buying next season’s battle pass. With more than a billion dollars in new investments and a rabid fan base, 2019 may not be the year that a new champion rises up to take a victory royale over Fortnite, but you never know what’s going to happen in this volatile industry.

Nintendo might have another incredible year

Compared to 2017’s barrage of high-tier Nintendo games, many believe that the big N had a somewhat lackluster 2018 (despite the glory of SMASH on Switch). However, with what we know about Nintendo’s upcoming titles, 2019 could match 2017’s high-water mark. So far, the company has announced it is working on an Animal Crossing game, a core Pokémon game, Bayonetta 3, Luigi’s Mansion 3, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Pikmin 4 and Metroid Prime 4 for the Switch. If the stars align and Nintendo can push out even half of those games out in one calendar year, then it could very nearly match 2017’s Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart 8, Splatoon 2, Super Mario Odyssey days of glory. And given that we know more Wii U ports like Kirby’s Epic Yarn and New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe are on the way, it already looks like 2019 will be a stellar year for Switch owners.

Culture Music

Not Impossible’s Wearable Tech Turns Concerts Into Full-Body Experiences

Soon you might be able to really feel the music because of a slick device called “Music: Not Impossible.” It’s made up of two wristbands, two ankle bands and a back harness that sync up with a venue’s sound system to send vibrations through the user’s skin.

Not Impossible Labs, the makers of M: NI and its Vibrotextile technology, said that a product test with deaf users was a success and hopes the device can provide an enhanced “surround body” experience for all concert-goers.

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Grind Productivity

My Year in Grind: Gary Vaynerchuk

His presence on the internet is undeniable. His energy is contagious. If you were to watch any of his videos on YouTube or listen to his podcast episodes, you know Gary Vaynerchuk is the right guy to motivate you to get on the grind and take over the world. His action speaks way louder than the brash delivery he often displays on his content channels. 

His latest book, Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence-and How You Can, Too has become a New York Times bestseller. He launched an exclusive line of wine with his collection of wine called “Empathy,” that lets farmers sell directly to consumers under the label, ending the process of consumers paying markup while farmers can earn more from their sales. He released his “Dark Cloud” K-Swiss shoe. 

Courtesy of Gary Vaynerchuk

Now, 4.7 million followers on IG (and counting) later, the man behind the brand is ready to elevate his game to another level. 

Gary sat down with ONE37pm—the latest piece to be added to his media conglomerate—and gave us his recap in the year in grind in 2018. Check out how this Jet fanatic got his game face on and is focusing on how he will be the biggest entrepreneur ever in 2019.

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Culture Music

3 Reasons Why the UK Loves Christmas Music More Than Any Other Country

The United Kingdom streams Christmas music at a higher rate than any other country, based on Spotify streaming data compiled from the past three years. But why do the Brits consume holiday tunes more than people in the Netherlands (No. 2), more than Canadians (No. 3), more than Irish folks (No. 4) and more than Americans (No. 5)?

Various factors (one being a literal X Factor) push the UK to the top of the international rankings, and here’s a quick rundown of three of those main factors.

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1. The ‘Christmas number one’ is a big deal

A certain allure of the “Christmas number one” started in 1952, the year the Official Charts Company began tracking sales for the top-selling music and compiling rankings into what is known as the UK Singles Chart. The obsession ramped up during the country’s tumultuous ’70s with fandoms battling to get their favorite artists to the top of the charts come Christmas Day as a way to distract themselves from the unfavorable real-world events surrounding them. The Beatles earned four Christmas numbers ones in the ’60s, and in the ’70s, acts like Slade, Queen, Wings and Pink Floyd each claimed the throne. The next repeat winners were the Spice Girls during a three-year span in the late ’90s. Throughout the decades, not all winners have been Christmas-related; however, the annual fervor accompanying the race to the summit increases the overall music consumption in the UK, a huge reason why Brits are streaming and buying holiday tunes at a higher rate than any other country. One of the most memorable number ones, above, was “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” from supergroup Band Aid (featuring Wham!).

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2. Reality TV elevated the music chart mania

By the turn of the 21st century, as reality competition shows gained popularity globally, televised singing shows in the UK began massively influencing the Christmas number one year after year, starting in 2002 with Girls Aloud’s “Sound of the Underground” from Popstars. Another show, The X Factor UK, has completely owned the Christmas number one since 2005, when Season 2 winner Shayne Ward’s “That’s My Goal” reigned supreme.

Since then, X Factor has aired Christmas specials with the finalists, ramping up holiday music streams and sales in hopes of repeatedly snatching the Christmas number one crown. And it has worked, with a total of seven X Factor winners from 2005 to 2014 earning the Christmas number one, including Alexandra Burke’s “Hallelujah” cover. The past two winners in 2016 and 2017 have come from non-reality show artists: Clean Bandit’s “Rockabye” featuring Sean Paul and Anne-Marie and Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect.” That hasn’t stopped the X Factor from airing Christmas episodes and subsequently spurring interest in original holiday songs or reviving interest in classic ones.

3. The Brits just love Christmas, like a lot

People in the UK not only consume holiday music at a higher rate than the rest of the world—based on Google Search data from the past five years, the Brits also search for more festive terms during the Christmas season than any other country. Their interest in festive words clearly spills over into the music category, with searches for music-related things increasing immensely, particularly in the past seven days. For example, searches for “Christmas number one 2018” have spiked 1,950 percent, searches for “Christmas No. 1 2018” have risen 1,000 percent, and searches for “Christmas charts 2018” have risen 850 percent.

And there you have it, folks. Those are three reasons why the United Kingdom loves Christmas music. Here are the rankings for the top 10 countries that stream holiday music, based on the past three Christmas seasons:

  • United Kingdom
  • Netherlands
  • Canada
  • Ireland
  • United States
  • Australia
  • Malta
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Belgium
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And here are the top 10 streamed Christmas songs, globally:

  • Mariah Carey // “All I Want For Christmas Is You”
  • Wham! // “Last Christmas”
  • Michael Bublé // “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas”
  • Andy Williams // “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”
  • Brenda Lee // “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”
  • Bobby Helms // “Jingle Bell Rock”
  • Band Aid // “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”
  • Bing Crosby // “White Christmas”
  • John Lennon // “Happy Xmas (War is Over)”
  • Frank Sinatra // “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”

READ NEXT: The Milestones of Mariah’s ’All I Want for Christmas Is You’

Grind Productivity

My Year in Grind: HipHopGamer

You may see him walking around conventions and showcases sporting a personalized belt. You may see him on Twitch talking about all of the hottest video games. But one thing you can say about HipHopGamer is his love and passion for video games is like a classic Eric B. & Rakim song—it ain’t no joke!

Born Gerard Williams, HipHopGamer has been in the loop on all of the latest video games for many years now. His infectious energy and impressive knowledge about the gaming world has caused him to rack up to 500,000 viewers on his Twitch streaming platform. This led to creating content and interviewing some of pop culture’s most idolized figures such as Kevin Hart, Jerry Rice and Angela Bassett. When he’s not in front of the camera playing games, he’s writing about it. Williams contributes to the highly popular NYC-based hip-hop station, Hot 97.1.

Continuing to carry on the legacy of his deceased grandmother—Hip Hop Granny—while building his own, HipHopGamer continues to stay on the scene and on the grind as he delivers the 411 on this year’s hottest video game releases. Associate editor Omari White was able to catch up with him as they recap his 2018 year in grind.

Omari White and Hip Hop Gamer at the ONE37pm offices, 2018

This year has been a huge for video games. What is your take on the future of these new video game outlets such a eSports developing into a multi-million dollar business?

Branding. More branding and more companies being brought out and things like that to provide content for the fans out there that are looking for more content. So I’ll give you an example of what I mean. Companies like ESPN, they tested the waters, having like Street Fighter on at times and Starcraft on their network. I think going into the new year you’re going to see a deal happen where stuff like that is permanent. We’re like, ESPN will actually have hired talent to provide content for the gaming world in the form of eSports as a normal permanent channel for ESPN with anchors, journalists and all. I could see that being one thing.

I see a lot more companies like the non-endemic companies such as Puma, Adidas, Nike, getting more involved apparel-wise. You may see a whole entire apparel line, so instead of limited edition, you’ll see a full normal line where you could just walk into the store and get gaming material. I see a lot of these companies and teams embracing the industry like that, which means a lot more investments. I think the best thing about all of this is that gaming as a culture won’t seem as foreign in terms of what’s taking place and what’s happening. I think it’d be more accepted and more normalized like how you see television, music and everything like that. The more people get into gaming and they will understand it more so you can see it grow that much better.

Your grind has been an interesting one in which you get to travel internationally to play some of the most talked-about video games before they get released to the public. What trip did you enjoy the most when it comes to learning about new innovative advancements in the forever-evolving virtual gaming world? Why?

It’s always going to LA to E3. Now don’t get me wrong. I would love to go to Germany to Gamescom because Gamescom is a bigger than E3 in terms of attendance. It’s like the international version of E3 and I never been there yet, but going to E3, that’s always considered to be the Super Bowl of the gaming industry. So that’s always my favorite. But I will say this, in this year’s E3, the Microsoft Xbox surprised me. They surprised me that the only reason why I say that is because I’ve never seen like a company that’s leading a console that changed their entire business model or the process of changing their entire business model to the point where you may see an Xbox game pass on PlayStation. Bill Spencer is so interested in bringing Xbox games to every device that even if they come to the PlayStation, he’s happy because he just wants people to play their games. So I’d never seen that happen in a console war before. So I don’t even think Microsoft cares about the console war anymore. I’d bet, they just want people to play games and I think that’s the best way for them to actually win, and dominate the market.

Can you give me your breakdown of how many streaming apps such as Twitch, Instagram live and Periscope play such a huge role in video gaming?

So with Instagram, remember Instagram was just pictures. When it comes to gaming, a picture is not worth a thousand words in my opinion when it comes to the gaming element. So that interactivity, the energy and the action need to be watched, not just seeing a static standpoint. So when Instagram brought video to their platform, the gaming content just went to a whole another level. For example, as big as Ninja is, as big as the fighting game community with competition, and just eSports, and getting those highlights and those final kills that you see people get when they win a million dollars at an event, now you go live that highlight on Instagram, which is more valuable to the world of gaming.

What is your takeaway in video games slowly becoming a popular trend in the hip-hop community?

Well, video games have always been popular in the hip-hop community it’s just that they were only popular in one genre which is mainly sports and in Grand Theft Auto in terms of a brand. So now you’re, now you’re starting to see gaming as a whole being talked about in the world of hip-hop. But there’s a difference between being popular and Trendy and being actually authentic. So this is what I want to see in 2019. I would love to see more companies embrace gaming culture from an authentic standpoint. So for example, instead of record companies hiring a whole bunch of A and Rs, I would love to see record companies hire streamers to push their music and to push their artists. Tie Streamers know what I’m saying.

What was your favorite release of 2018?

Oh God Of War! C’mon B! God Of War. Game of the year! Shoutouts to Christopher Judge playing Kratos. Shoutout to Corey Barlog for recreating a great franchise that David Jaffe started. I want to say this, David Jaffe deserves so much credit because he is the one that created God Of War. He created Kratos. He created the story. David Jaffe created everything in that world and somewhat like Corey Barlog who’s amazing, who also shows respect to David Jaffe was the person that recreated it in such a way where we can love it that much more going forward. And all I gotta say is if you love Marvel, when you love Thor, just know Kratos is the future. I’m telling you, man, God Of War, the game of the year.

Name a rap song that best describes your grind and success in 2018. Why did you choose that song?

So the song that I would choose is a song that I actually designed around ONE37PM and VaynerMedia, and that’s a song called “Champion” because the song is pretty much designed around hustle and happiness. It’s also designed about having self-love and self-encouragement so it can be able to get that energy back off and back out into the world. And I think ideally I think I did a hell of a job with the song because one of the lines in the song I spoke about not living on your knees so you have to kiss nobody ass to achieve the things you want to achieve in life. You can actually sacrifice, work hard and do things the right way in order to be empowering and influential in a positive light for everyone that witnessed it and embrace the song, the content and everything that you do. So I want to give a big shout out to Gary Vee on that because he was an inspiration for that song title as well as, you know, other people. But Gary was a huge inspiration to me writing that song.

Photo courtesy of Hip Hop Gamer

Check out his latest song that helped him win in 2018 titled, “Champion”. 

Entrepreneurs Grind

My Year in Grind: Gallery Media Group CEO Ryan Harwood

CEO of Gallery Media Group, Ryan Harwood, has been reaping the benefits in 2018 from the hustle and grind he threw down in 2017. Early last year, the platform he founded—PureWow—was acquired by entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk. This landmark deal has helped PureWow create even more content thanks to the backing of Vaynerchuk’s digital marketing resources under the VaynerX umbrella. Fast forward to 2018, Harwood hasn’t taken his foot off the pedal, introducing intriguing content for millennial women and men.

PureWow’s phenomenal following reached new heights when they launched the PureWow 100 in collaboration with Neutrogena in September. The list was made up of next-gen stars who are tearing up the fabric of pop culture, selected by a committee of talents such as Kerry Washington, Priyanka Chopra and Gallery Media Group’s Chief Content Officer Mary Kate McGrath. The list featured many outstanding fresh faces such as R&B singer Alina Barez, NBA stylist Courtney Mays and comedian Nicole Byer. 

“Making Positivity Louder” is the motto Gallery Media Group lives by. Harwood has accomplished that with the success of PureWow. This year, Harwood felt it was time to expand his digital real estate with an entrepreneur-focused site. Early in September, ONE37pm launched to keep the male hustler in the loop with what’s going on in culture, entertainment, music, sports and lifestyle. “Own your future, start this minute” is the M.O. behind our site’s content.

Harwood was able to take a break from his daily grind and sat with associate editor Omari White to reflect back on his success in 2018 and look forward to the new year. 

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Chance the Rapper had a good 2018

Who do you think had a great 2018?

Ryan Harwood: I think that Chance The Rapper had a great 2018. I think Giannis Antetokounmpo had a great 2018. I think Jeff Bezos continues to have quite the run. I think that Gary Vaynerchuk had a really good 2018. Rihanna had a great 2018. The Kardashians had a great 2018, they continue to build their own empire. 

What do you think will happen in the media space in 2019?

Harwood: People are going to realize content is the name of the game. In order to be culturally relevant these days as a content producer, people are realizing the volume of content that is needed in order to break through. You can put one piece, two pieces out. You’re not ever going to break through the noise because everyone is a content creator these days. Content is the only thing that matters in this day in age, both in quality and quantity.

Platforms are going to continue to dominate more than they already have. It’s going to take time for any new technology or new platform to come and unseat the current players from FAANG (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google).

By the same token, I think it’s super important to create fan brands. What I mean by that is it’s not just enough to create content—you need to have something that you stand for. When it comes to media companies, you need to pick a few lanes and go very hard in those lanes. When you say ONE37pm, what do you want that human to feel when you say it? Whether they are reading it or not, your friend might not read it but when you say ONE37pm, they might feel something about the brand because they know something about the brand. It’s more important than ever to stand out from the noise; you need to have that distinct aesthetic, look and feel, voice.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Harwood
Harwood, McGrath, and GMG’s COO Kevin Stetter in the GMG offices

GMG’s mission is to “Make Positivity Louder.” Can you tell me what accomplishments you and the team achieved in promoting positivity?

Harwood: We have two core media brands right now: PureWow and ONE37pm. PureWow has always stood for fun. What we are trying to do is give [our reader] a rest from a lot of the noise that’s going on out there. If we can make her laugh, if we can make her smile, that’s promoting positivity. When you give them a break from maybe watching the news and seeing headlines that make them unhappy, that is promoting positivity.

On the ONE37pm side, we are giving these guys permission to seize their moment. We’re inspiring them, pushing them to do what they want to do in this world and this life and do it with fervor. Information that they find is interesting and that’s going to show that, “Hey, this can be done.” We’re just getting started on that brand and we’re going to be jumping into a lot of other ways to create content.

Even on our podcasts, such as Mom Brain, it’s giving people the ability to know there are others out there like them going on and stuff. So it promotes positivity that you’re not alone out there. Bobbi Brown’s podcast, Long Story Short, shows people how iconic people in the industry did it. So again, inspiration, positivity and that’s how I think we’ve done that.

Business Insider

Can you tell me why you chose to launch ONE37pm in 2018? 

Harwood: So, you know, it’s funny. When I started PureWow, I wanted to launch a men’s brand. Actually, that was my first inclination. At the time though, there had been, you know what this was eight years ago, but wait, if you looked at 10 to 15 years ago, right before I was thinking about starting a media brand, you had a bunch of men’s brands that had just kind of innovated on the media landscape. That’s about the time when you had Bleacher Report, Complex, Thrillist launching and Vice was starting to become more of a digital brand than a print brand. Ten to 15 years ago it, a lot of those guys were birthed. Women’s hadn’t been innovated on yet so, that coupled with the fact that actually back then, my research showed that women were better consumers than men, and in a lot of different ways they probably still are — but they consume, they shared content more and more ad budgets went towards them. So that was the reason why I didn’t do it then, there was some strong rationale as to why it made more sense to go into women at that time.

Here we are ten years later and there hasn’t been a meaningful men’s media brand launched from my perspective, especially in this space we’re trying to play in.  I’m sure there has been in other spaces, but like in the space we’re trying to play in, it’s been at least a solid ten years since you have somebody that has tried to come into kind of entrepreneurship culture, geared towards a younger demographic. I also think this is a very interesting moment in time where these young guys wanted to be communicated to in a different way. Not only from a tone of voice perspective, you know, but they’re also a bit more empathetic. They’re in tune with their emotions a bit more. They grew up in a different era. The way they consume, the formats they consume, hence, you know, the #Face2Facetime series that we do or you know, the fact that whatever podcast platforms we’re choosing to distribute our content on have changed from ten years ago. Plus, you know, candidly speaking, like the partnership with Gary Vaynerchuk, you know it was timely. It was something that we had insights into an audience that we were going to try to target. So, I’d be able to look at what his audience wanted, what they cared about, whether it’s eSports, whether it was soccer whatever it may be.

Being inspired to make that next step in their career and do whatever it took. Like there were a lot of stars aligned essentially. Plus, you know, timing is a real thing and you need to wait until you have the resources to do it. You know, five years ago I was too focused on PureWow and we didn’t have enough resources to launch a second media brand and give it a chance to succeed. So a lot of the stars were aligning in the sense that we felt that there was an opportunity in a white space here to win. No different than eight years ago when I felt there was an opportunity in this space to win in the women’s space.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Harwood
Harwood speaking at New Fronts 2018 West

If you had to choose a theme song to describe your hustle in 2018, what would it be and why?

Harwood: Oh man, it would have to be Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.” I like that song. It’s basically about seizing the moment, don’t lose yourself and take advantage of it.  I think that there was a moment in time here that we could capitalize on the momentum.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Harwood
Harwood and Larry Johnson

You’re a huge NY Knicks fan. If you can compare the grind you put in 2018 to a Knicks’ player from the past or present, who would it be and why?

Harwood: I’m going to say Charles Oakley because of the grit. Not because of the tough guy thing, because of the grit, you know, he, he was always willing to put the extra work in, go the extra mile. Grit is one of my favorite words to describe, like as opposed to like hustle or something. Grit is the ability to stay with a goal day in and day out and have focus. Oakley was that type of guy. He had that New York Grit.

The other guy I’m going to say is Frank Ntilikina. Frank is patient, maybe sometimes too patient, but he is patient. He picks his spots and he doesn’t pull the trigger. He’s not emotionally reactive and he’s young. Not to say I’m young, but I do feel that line of young executives that still has a long way to go and I think that Frank is young and I actually believe in Frank. Whereas a lot of people have given up on him. I believe in him. I think that he’s going to be a great point guard for years to come because even if he gives you 12 points and nine assists because of his defensive specialty, he’s an elite point guard in the league that can bring something to the table night in and night out. So, I’m going with the patience of Frank and the grit of Charles.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Harwood

What is the ultimate goal for yourself and for Gallery Media Group in 2019?

Harwood: The thing I’m most proud of is we have one of the highest retention rates of employees in the digital media startup space. There are typically a lot of turnovers. I think people really believe that we have their best interests at heart. We want to see them grow, but we care about them and they’re happy about coming to work every day. What I want to see in 2019 is as we grow, if we can continue that, that’s my proudest achievement.

For me personally, I want to continue to grow as a leader. We’ve crossed the one hundred threshold mark of employees at Gallery Media Group. We have multiple businesses under the hood now. That’s a new challenge for me. That’s a new test for me and something that I can’t wait to embrace. I challenged myself to disconnect when I need to disconnect. I have two children now and you need some “me” time. My wife would probably categorize me as a workaholic and I’ve done a really good job this year of “weekends are for the kids” because I used to work every weekend, every day I worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I’m going to continue to challenge myself to like be able to disconnect because I am addicted to work and I do love the challenge. I love the game of winning and being better than our competitors. The game of like feeling that you are able to achieve anything. That high of winning, it’s hard to shake off.

Entrepreneurs Grind

Why One Man Quit His Sports Marketing Job to Open a Coffee Shop

“Do you have oat milk?”

When Ioannis Blentzas, better known to friends as Yanni, a former sports marketing executive left his job of 17 years, he never thought he’d hear the phrase so many times in a day.

At his former corporate job, an advertising sales service called PSP Sports, Blentzas was dealing with unexpected anxiety. Since launching his own dream business, it has all but evaporated. Blentzas is now the proud owner and founder of newly launched coffee shop Yanni’s Coffee on 16th Street and 7th Avenue in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City.

Born into a big Greek family of immigrants, Blentzas grew up in Queens. His mother and father came to New York with nothing, started a furrier business (just a few blocks up the very same street from Yanni’s Coffee) and ran a successful business for 35 years. “I’m me because of them,” Blentzas says. His Grecian roots inspired his desire to create the perfect cup of coffee. He’d travel to visit family-owned beach cafes in Greece every summer, sipping espresso by the sea. “You feel a part of something. My goal was to have a cool coffee shop, keep it simple, be friendly and nice and offer that Greek hospitality.”

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In his new role as a coffee shop owner and operator, Blentzas wakes up at 5:15 a.m. He stays in the store until 8 p.m. He’s a barista, baker, cookie maker, stool mover, cleaner, coffee brewer and floor sweeper. Physically, he has almost adjusted to the toll—in the past three weeks since opening, he’s lost 12 pounds from the labor. The shop doors open at 7 a.m. to a crowd of eager drinkers. Right now, six die-hard fans wait every morning for their cold brew or latte. But the shop is getting busier and busier every day.

The day of our interview was also the birthday of his fiancée, Effie Veres. They’ve been engaged for almost two years, living together for eight and planned to get married last summer when the couple hit a roadblock. As the lease was being signed for the shop, Veres was diagnosed with cancer. The process came to a halt while the couple anxiously waited for a prognosis. It was advanced, Stage 3. She would need proton radiation treatment in New Jersey for 36 consecutive days.

Yanni Blentzas

Looking back, if I would’ve known the hardships I would face, I might’ve hesitated more. I haven’t even had a chance to reflect yet.

“Life is short, and you’ll never know what will happen tomorrow,” Blentzas says. “Instead of backing away, it made me push harder toward our goal.” Veres is waiting for her hair to grow back fully to host their wedding.

The shop’s new cookie baker—a recent hire to alleviate some of Blentzas’ daily workload—interrupts to ask if he’s mixing the batter well. Blentzas spent a year perfecting his prized recipe, much like the recipe for this perfect coffee shop. The cookies are divine.

When asked about the practical, daunting steps of launching a brick-and-mortar business in the city, Blentzas states, “Step one: Spend your life saving your money. Then, find a location. I walked up and down every block and avenue below 40th Street looking for the perfect space.” Originally, Blentzas wasn’t wooed by this location but kept coming back for the wide footprint and floor-to-ceiling windows.

“Then, you get a lawyer, negotiate a deal, incorporate a business, find an architect, contractor and reach out to designers.” The process took about a year. When construction was about to start, Effie’s treatment began and Blentaz quit his corporate job once and for all.

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“Looking back, if I would’ve known the hardships I would face, I might’ve hesitated more. I haven’t even had a chance to reflect yet.”

With a brand new business underway, Blentzas’s advice for the entrepreneur is solid. He says, “Study what you want to do, study the competition. Use the internet and visit places. Why are those places successful? The layout, the vibe, the culture? Learn every in and out of your business and every little piece of information. Come up with a plan. And after that, you need to be certain that you can provide a better service and hospitality than every single other guy out there. Never veer off from your initial goal. You’re going to get everyone’s two cents: Your mom, dad, brother, contractors, significant others, some guy on the street. And it’s not going to go with the research that you did. If you’ve convinced yourself that your plan will work, stick to that. Every bad decision I’ve ever made was because I listened to someone else for a mere second. Do your homework, and stick to your gut. Don’t lose focus.”

Blentzas is following his own advice now, hard at work behind the counter at 96 7th Avenue in Chelsea, right by the downtown Barney’s. Make sure to try one of his homemade cookies, their best-selling latte and ask him about Greece.

Sports Strength

Best Baller Fits of 2018

While NBA tunnels earned some mainstream attention in 2017, the tunnels became full-on runways in 2018. It turns out that seeing 6’6” guys wear $10,000 outfits is just as enjoyable as watching them dunk from the free throw line.

It didn’t take long for the players to notice how many people were watching that walk-in—this year, NBA style took it to a new level. The unofficial peak was likely when LeBron wore a $50,000 outfit during the Finals, but anyone can go to a Gucci or Versace store and leave with a ten-figure fit. We give more props to those who can pull together a fit from different directions.

Check out our favorite NBA fits of 2018, with a major assist from the invaluable SLAM IG account @leaguefits

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Swaggy P Was Built for the Cold

Lowkey, Swaggy P was pumped to get traded to Denver. “Can’t wait until the weather gets cold so I can really start dressin’.” Fur coat, Calabasas track pants and Yeezy 700s is a flat-out vibe.

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Devin Booker, King of #CozySZN

One time for #CozySZN! It feels sacrilegious to give Book credit here, but we think the kid may possibly have pulled it off better than the OG #CozyBoy, Kevin Durant, himself. The LV bag is a cheeky way to silence anyone who thinks he might have actually just gotten out of bed.

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Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: A Star Is Born

This was Shai’s first-ever NBA Tunnel fit pic, which set off his runaway campaign for Best Dressed Rookie of the Year in particularly blazing fashion. By the end of the year, he might even be NBA All-Drip, which is super impressive considering that he’s budgeted by the rookie deal ($3.375 million). The way his jackets always hang off his shoulders is mesmerizing. Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die.

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P.J. Tucker’s Hands are Full

P.J. Tucker has zero hands free in this fit pic. Not one. And it’s super intentional. If the large cup happened to be a color like blue or orange, do you really think P.J. would hold it on his way to the game? +1 for making a Big Gulp fashion.

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John Wall + Tony the Tiger S/S 2019

John Wall dropped 40 on the Lakers then pulled up with a stuffed tiger. Keep a tight watch on the National Zoo if he ever scores 50 again.

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Bonus Entry: Kelly Oubre’s Permanent Drip

It’s no secret to anyone around here—Kelly Oubre’s permanent flex has been so consistent and ongoing since entering the league that’s usually omitted from these shortlists. It’s akin to how the NBA tossed a few MVPs to Karl Malone and Steve Nash and James Harden while MJ and LeBron were at their peaks—it’s such an obvious choice that it’s boring. Yet, no other NBA player, arguably, could swing a sneaker apparel deal that does not necessarily require the player to wear the sneaker in a game. 

The most stylish players hope to make waves with their fit pics. Kelly Oubre literally is a Wave.