Velasquez, Vincent

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Too many people rely on the next leap in their careers on building their portfolio, buying more equipment or applying for jobs posted on websites.

Sure, all of it sounds sensible. But I’m telling you: None of it matters.

If you’re reading this, there’s a chance I’ve based my theory on our conversations.

Why do I have the authority to not only ‘call you out,’ but motivate you to forget about your résumé?

I haven’t earned any opportunities during my entrepreneurial journey because of my portfolio.

You have to be able to convince people that you’re up for the task.

What task? Any task. The task. A task. Find one, make it happen. Stop waiting for it.

There’s a difference between convincing someone and conniving someone.

It isn’t how you deliver the message – Once you convince someone, you have to deliver.

And here’s your advantage: The fact that they chose you means that they believe in YOU.

The art of convincing someone doesn’t mean that you are intentionally taking opportunity away from anyone or snaking your way up a proverbial ‘ladder.’

You are simply creating opportunity for yourself.

I used to hide the fact that my entrepreneurial path started as a DJ. I recently embraced it. Why? Because I operate two profitable businesses in NJ. That’s no easy task, folks.

I’m almost 29, not 19 – So I learned how to leverage my success. I’m an emcee, videographer, producer, consultant.

I don’t wait for my portfolio to catch up to itself.

I’m about to share a list of people I’ve convinced in my life – to believe in me and my ability – over a résumé or portfolio.

The results might convince you to try this yourself:

Tom Bergeron: Former Sports Editor at The Star-Ledger

I didn’t target Tom as an individual that I wanted or even needed to convince. I sent out a blind email to every sports editor at small, medium and large newspapers in NJ. I figured that in 2005, there was a good chance that my email would get read. Open rates during that time period were more favorable to the sender.
Here’s what I wrote:
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Hi {Insert name here}:
I’m freshman at Rutgers and an aspiring sports writer. I also own a small business which you can view at HurricaneProductions.com
I’m not seeking a formal internship, but the opportunity to come in and help your sports department in any capacity.
I’m currently a sports reporter at the school newspaper – covering field hockey, wrestling and basketball.
As a high school student, I transformed our monthly print newspaper to an online-only daily.
You can view it here: [website is no longer active]
Sincerely,
Vincent Velasquez

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]This is what surprised me: Tom was the first and only person to reply to my message.

But why?

Typical of a young sportswriter, I buried the lead. Tom didn’t read The Daily Targum. And yes, I touted that I was an 18 year old small business owner so that probably kept him reading. But what caught his eye is that I turned my monthly school newspaper to an online daily.

The Results:
My job started with modest beginnings. I filed expenses for other reporters and took calls from elderly readers who complained that the print in the newspaper shrunk to a level that they could no longer read. Every five days or so (corresponding with a pitcher’s next start) I fielded a call from a reader wanting to know how many strikeouts Roger Clemens recorded the day before.

I faxed credential requests for the Olympics, Final Four, and Super Bowl for everyone but myself.

I wasn’t competing with other reporters for their beats. I could careless about covering the Yankees or the Giants.

I helped reporters win awards and accolades in the industry. The requirements? I dug their stories out of the archives in the catacombs of the Star-Ledger building. Then I would cut and paste (literally scissors and glue) the stories onto construction paper and mail it out to the respective associations.

While I ran through glue sticks in the supply closet, I also started posting stories to NJ.com in PDF format. The reporters scoffed at the online versions of work they intended for print.

All of a sudden I was in meetings about transforming the dot-com to a blog format. And soon after, I had the first set of keys to Moveable Type.

And I created social media properties for the organization that still live today – despite the Star-Ledger reorganizing to NJ Advance Media.

Note: I’m still in college during all of this.

Kevin Whitmer: Former Editor-in-Chief at The Star-Ledger

At first glance, maybe its unimpressive to you that the next person on this list worked at the same company.

If you’re a millennial, you’re probably wondering why I didn’t leap frog to another outlet. That’s what most people do nowadays.

There’s more to it and more to me. Maybe its my Achilles heel – time will tell – but I’m loyal.

After college, the Ledger hired me as a full-time worker. Prior to my first official day, Tom left the organization. Very few people knew what to do with me.

My own company was growing but I didn’t understand a lot about full-time employment. I wanted to have some experience with the balancing act of 40 hours required work per week and then adding 20-30 hours of my passion into the mix. So we were kind of stuck together for a while.

I struggled with my new boss (not Kevin) and I didn’t sit quietly at my desk. I felt like I had a pretty good idea of where this place was going.

And Kevin’s office was only about 40 yards away so I vocalized my ideas loud enough to get to the Editor-in-Chief.

The Results:
While most executives take Fridays to play golf or sneak out for a half-day, Kevin made time twice a month at 2pm to meet with me for an hour. He titled the meetings, “Media in the New World.”

We talked, theorized, tried out new platforms. I pitched a countless number of ideas to him and he dissected each one with a certain kind of eloquence that is probably worth a blog post in itself.

But for now, I’ll say this:
If you could take a forensic sweep of NJ.com – back then and now – my fingerprints show up every time.

When I decided to leave the organization to devote my full-time and energy to my own entrepreneurial endeavors, Kevin affirmed my decision in one of these meetings.

Joanne Arnholt: Dean of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs – Adviser for Dance Marathon

This next “act of convincing” took place during college and its THE example of why your portfolio is meaningless.

“Dean A,” as she’s known to the masses, met with me at my request after I volunteered at Dance Marathon.

Again, a simple email created that meeting opportunity.

I envisioned this event – bare bones in terms of entertainment and multimedia at the time – as not only THE philanthropic event for students each year but one of the premiere fusions of philanthropy and entertainment in the state.

At the time, my company was still in its infancy…kind of incapable of handling an event this size, to be honest …That’s if you only looked at our portfolio.

Here’s what I pitched to Dean A: I want to grow my business alongside Dance Marathon. And I want to be around for a long-time. It’s going to take some time, actually. I promised her that I would be involved with DM as long I could or as long as they wanted me.

The Results:
Almost a decade later and DM is an established tradition at RU.

Let me say this: DM has and will always be a successful event. My involvement with it may have accelerated some its success but no matter what the event is or becomes, the cause (raising money and awareness for Embrace Kids Foundation) is much more than any individual contribution.

The connections and relationships that I developed from Dean A’s trust solidified my belief that you can’t just convince someone – You have to deliver.

Jason Baum – Former Rutgers Football Director of Communications

Jason knew me from my time at the Star-Ledger. We had a rapport as good anyone from the SL could have with someone in Rutgers Athletics.

I credit Jason for allowing me in the locker room with a camera.

It was kind of taboo at the time. Players and coaches expected cameras from TV reporters; Not from print reporters (albeit our growing dot-com and video audience).

He understood the inevitability of the “new media” reporter. And he trusted me.

But after I left the newspaper, I knew that my company could help the Athletics department.

But I had to convince Jason that I was finished with journalism and that I wanted to play on their team.

We offered a menu of services and I opened my Rolodex of talented people.

The Results:
Jason sent a few emails and helped me get meetings with people that mattered in the department. The convincing didn’t end there. (And it still hasn’t).

Up until this point, people on campus knew me as a DJ (emcee, really) specifically tied to Dance Marathon.

But the videos that spread around campus from DM – that was us. The graphics design, marketing – us. The production? We had a hand in that, too.

I earned the opportunity to duplicate that success in Athletics.

My company evolved to serve the needs of an Athletic department entering the Big Ten Conference. This meant more content, more events, and fundraising efforts.

We continue to evolve this relationship and it couldn’t be more exciting.

Zander Gambill, Larry Kluger, David Schankweiler – Journal Multimedia

I’m browsing Facebook. I see that a Journal Multimedia property posts a job for a Social Media Director. I’m curious, so I click to learn more.

I search the social media properties attached to the brand and realize, “Ok so they want to hire a Social Media Director but they don’t really have any social media.”

I reach out to some of my past media contacts. I get emails of some key players in the organization.

I write a proposal about how they shouldn’t hire one person. They should hire an agency to run their social media – my agency.

The Results:
Journal Multimedia hired a full-time employee to fill that job. But before that happened, they hired us to consult the entire organization in company-wide social media training program.

We visited three of the company’s publications over a three-month span. We advised them of how to speak in one voice across multiple platforms.

We created a guidebook that laid out a clear strategy for their brands. And they still implement the core program today.

Richard Majewski: Director of Sales – Ray Catena Motor Corp, Audi of Freehold

I met Rich through a referral from a vendor we work with on other projects. He can read people pretty well. He wasn’t easy to convince of anything but he liked me.

Sometimes, that’s all it takes.

Rich’s boss tasked him with throwing a Grand Opening Event for the largest Audi dealership in the U.S.

Rich isn’t an event person. He’s a car guy.

He needed lighting, he needed video, he needed things he didn’t even know about.

I had to drag every important player in my company to come to this facility and test out every aspect of everything we were providing on game day – weeks before the event.

There wasn’t a line item for this on the invoice.

We just did it. Sometimes, that’s all it takes.

The Results:
We produced a first-class event for Ray Catena and his new dealership.

And we started a strong relationship within that organization.

My favorite encounter of the whole experience came a few days before the event:

Rich: Shit, I just realized we need a DJ. You know anyone?
Me: I think I can hook you up.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_video link=”https://vimeo.com/146146818″][/vc_column][/vc_row]