I recently had the opportunity to exclusively interview Marketing Influencer and TED Talks Speaker Ryan Foland about ten random facts about himself, what advice he would give his younger self. Plus what's something he is currently working on. Check out my interview with Ryan below:
Loryn: What's a risk that has left an impact on you?
Ryan: When social media started to become popular, I didn't really jump on the bandwagon. Sure, I started Facebook and Twitter pages, but I never checked them and didn't really understand how to navigate online profiles. Social media felt risky to me because historically I’ve kept to myself to avoid exposing my vulnerabilities and failures. I was used to my ‘brand’ always being tied to my business ventures. This is a cycle that many entrepreneurs get stuck in, using their company to essentially “hide” behind. But over the past few years, as I’ve grown and become more confident, I’ve realized there is no reason to hide. I’ve used various strategies to connect with people online, like writing blogs or making videos but doing those things alone don’t build relationships or trust. It wasn't until I shared both good and not so good life events that I was able to really connect with people. Because at the end of the day, if you are not open with others then they are not able to relate to you. And if they can not relate then they have no reason to invest their time in your content. I challenge the readers to look at your feeds, look at your bio, look at the information people can find about you online. If the information you are putting out is a carefully curated list of “good,” then I challenge you to take the risk of sharing vulnerabilities and let people get to know the real you, shortcomings and all. This is the basis for my book, Ditch The Act. When you share both good and not so good things, then people will see that you have something in common: you are both human!
Loryn: What's a lesson you've learned from creating your own business?
Ryan: If I look back on the successes, and more importantly the failures, I think the biggest takeaway I’ve learned in being patient in finding the right business partner. I’m guilty of getting very excited by new opportunities, especially ones that have the potential of turning into a successful, profitable, and sustainable business. But just like a romantic relationship, when you are starting with a new business partner, people are usually on their best behavior during the courtship and honeymoon phases. What I have learned, and I can’t stress enough to fellow entrepreneurs, is the importance of really getting to know a potential partner before you start a new venture. It's easy to be a partner when business is going well but when things go wrong or difficult decisions need to be made people react in unexpected ways. I've had business partners abusing drugs, who have had anger management issues, most have lied to me, one physically threatened me, and many have stolen from me or our company. These were all situations that could have been avoided if I paid attention to the little red flags along the way.
Loryn: What would you consider as your biggest accomplishment?
Ryan: I think my biggest accomplishment is my loving relationship with my fiance (wife as of September 19th, 2020). We have been together for 11 years, and like most relationships, there have been ups and downs. But I am so proud of how we continue to support each other no matter what. So much of our lives are dedicated to work and working. Business partners have come and gone, but Cyn is always there for me. She is currently finishing her PhD at UCLA so in these crazy times of stay-at-home orders, we are lucky to have more time together. It has brought us closer knowing that we support each other even during such a difficult time when emotions and uncertainty is so high. We have similar passions for nature, the ocean, wellness, and helping others but we also keep each other accountable. I feel like as I have gotten older and more mature, things like hitting the snooze button to snuggle, or making coffee in the morning, or an afternoon walk - these things that bring me the most joy in my day include Cyn. These are the moments when I am disconnected from my phone, and connected with her. Spending time with her makes me happy. Mostly, I’m proud that our relationship is ever-evolving. Cyn helps me be the best I can be, and in return, I do my best to support her in being the best she can be. It’s something I am very proud of, and it makes me happy to think about.
Loryn: Where has been your favorite place to travel and why?
Ryan: My favorite place to travel is located 26 miles off the coast of Southern California, an island called Catalina. My family spent a lot of time there as I was growing up and I have a deep connection to the raw and untouched feeling of the Island. I like to call Catalina the closest furthest place we can get. It truly is an untouched part of California that we are so lucky to have access to. Cyn and I have a ‘77 Cal 34 sailboat named BINGO and we sail over to the Island as much as we can. When I'm sailing I can disconnect from technology and connect with nature. Being around nature and appreciating the ocean and its wildlife truly centers me to my core. It makes me better at my job, in my life and in how I relate to the world around me. Sailing is a good analogy for life and business as you truly don't have control over the winds, but you always have control over how you trim your sails.
Loryn: What has been your favorite conference to attend and why?
Ryan: By far, my favorite conference was the US Sailing Leadership Forum. If there are two things that I’m most passionate about in this world, it's speaking and sailing.This conference was on my raidar for a while because it has all the things a strong conference has: a combination of industry professionals and novices, places for companies to showcase their new technologies and models, and it attracts people from all over the world to experience sailing together. Because of my personal interest in sailing and my strengths in speaking on leadership topics, I applied to speak at the US Sailing Leadership Forum multiple years in a row. I kept applying because but didn’t land the keynote spot. However, my persistence recently paid off and I was able to speak at the 2020 conference in San Diego, California. The conference was so much fun because it was an opportunity to meet many great leaders in the industry who share my passion for a common topic - in this case it was sailing. The point is that if you love the conference topic and you can immerse yourself with like-minded people, then do it. I love learning. I love sailing. And I love speaking, so I really loved that conference.
Loryn: What's 1 lesson you've learned from creating Ditch The Act?
Ryan:Over the three year process of selling the book concept to McGraw-Hill and actually writing Ditch The Act, I had the opportunity to deep dive into the concepts of the book - to be more human and not be afraid to be vulnerable. Being vulnerable is something I continue to work toward on a daily basis but while I was writing the book I really learned to explore and listen to my feelings and emotions. I became more connected with myself which actualized my working relationship with my co-author and business partner, Leonard Kim.Leonard taught me a lot about how to push past my comfort zones to connect with others. But like starting a business, writing a book is intense and in this case revealed major weaknesses in our working relationship. Through really living what we were writing I was able to identify that I was not happy with the direction our partnership had taken. The negatives overshadowed the positives and I could not move forward if I was not honoring the principles of the book - so I chose to leave our company. I learned not to be afraid of making tough decisions because at the end of the day I needed to honor my feelings. And yes, that made me more vulnerable. I was concerned about the optics. I was concerned about how we would sell a book when our partnership did not work out. I still get anxious about promoting the book because of choices that he has made since I left the company. But the reality is that I practice what I speak and write on, and that is honoring the good, the not so good and what makes me human - and I’ve learned and continue to be reminded that we are all just human.
Loryn: What's an advice you've received, and actually put into practice?
Ryan: I’ve practiced martial arts for many years. During my youth I practiced as a means for building self-confidence and as a form of protection from bullies. My first Sensei, Sensei Dubose always said “practice does not make perfect. But, perfect practice makes perfect.” Sensei would remind us that when we practice at home, that the practice must be as close to perfect as possible in order to improve. We had to pay attention to the imperfections in order to correct them. This style of practice takes a lot of time, focus, and diligence. There is no rushing, only opportunity to become more fluid in the movements; to learn from each and every micromovement. These days, I approach practicing the art of speaking like I practice martial arts. Understanding that my audience deserves a great keynote or a compelling workshop and that can only happen if I practice with the intention of improving. This advice does not promote perfection, but rather the practice to achieve greatness because just practicing is not enough; you must learn from practicing at high levels in order to improve your craft.
Loryn: What advice would you give to your younger self?
Ryan: If I was to give advice to my younger self it would be to do my due diligence on anyone who I planned to form a business partnership with and be more patient in the process of building relationships with those people before going into business. Look for red flags and if you see them, stop and clearly evaluate the situation. Of my many mistakes, especially the ones that resulted in massive personal, financial, or legal failure, I can trace the source back to trusting too quickly. It is important to spend time with people in a variety of situations so that you can see how they are and to assess if your personality and quirks are compatible for a long-term business partnership.
Loryn: What is something not many people know about you?
Ryan: Oaky, I’m going to get vulnerable - I eat M&M’s one at a time. But not just any M&M’s, peanut M&M’s. I'm the kind of guy that tries to maximize my utility of experiences. It's a fancy way of saying that I'm the person who saves a very small amount of leftovers because I'm convinced that I will want them the next day. But with M&M’s I’m able to maximize their goodness while also using them as a reward system.
It started in college when I was writing papers but then it really took off when I was doing my MBA. I would (and still do) line up individual M&M’s on my keyboard. Then with every little milestone, I reward myself with one M&M. It sounds silly but I’ve trained myself and it works.
Be sure to stay updated with Ryan Foland by checking out his website: https://www.ryanfoland.com/ .Plus you can contact with him on all social platforms under the name Ryan Foland.