How I Broke Into: Michael Prywes Interviews Artists and Entrepreneurs About Their Big Break

From writers, musicians, and actors, to tech magnates, to mom & pop businesses and food, beverage, or cosmetics entrepreneurs, New York-based startup attorney Michael Prywes (www.Proud.Lawyer) takes the audience on a deep dive into the world of creative business building. Every innovator has an important story to tell, and lessons to share. For more information, call 212.206.9104 or visit www.Proud.Lawyer
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How I Broke Into: Michael Prywes Interviews Artists and Entrepreneurs About Their Big Break



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Now displaying: February, 2016
Feb 25, 2016

Nick Pelis has worked for some of the most recognizable distilled spirits industry brands and distributors in the U.S., including Diageo, Moët Hennessy, William Grant & Sons and SKYY Spirits. He founded Citizen Spirits with its flagship artisan rum, Denizen. Denizen's first product was a white rum that blended flavors from Trinidad and Jamaica, and it hit the ground running, earning praise from Forbes, iVillage, and the Beverage Testing Institute. Rum is the second-largest spirits category in the U.S., but Denizen got noticed in a hurry, with 90+ ratings and a number of awards. The Cocktail Enthusiast raved that "Denizen is a game changer for white rums." Denizen introduced its amber 8 Year Aged Merchant's Reserve in 2014, a blend of flavors from Jamaica and Martinique. Denizen's Merchant's Reserve has been praised for capturing the essence of Trader Vic Bergeron's legendary Mai Tai rum.

Nick lives in New York, but has seen distribution for Denizen explode beyond New York all over the US. Recently, Time Out Seattle and the Rum Collective celebrated the arrival of Denizen rum in Washington State.

Notes from the show:

Nick's father, as a sales manager for a high-end Greek food importing company, gave him the opportunity to see how things operate in a business, and Nick saw firsthand how people got excited to receive products.

"If you're going to be successful, you have to deliver something different."

"You need to value other people's feedback."

Nick noticed early on that there was a void in distilled spirits products connecting emotionally with consumer.

Rum was a category that was "a mess."

Nick saw a big opportunity in the "tweener" market - post-college graduates still trying to find themselves.

The concept of a denizen matched Nick's goal of creating a brand around the "liberated spirit."

Nick's first goal was to create a brand that transcends the category.

Nick spent a considerable amount of money developing the brand before developing the product.

Pricing was a barrier to entry; white rums over $20 don't sell.

Offering in-store tasting mitigated risk to retailers.

"On premise"--in bars, restaurants, etc.--cost per ounce matters more.

Nick ended up at Diageo after his boss at DC Comics moved to Diageo.

Nick got an MBA in marketing, because he already had a background in finance, strategy, and operations.

"Very few big companies give people the opportunity to get outside of their comfort zone."

Very few people deliver on promises, especially if you can't offer something of value immediately.

Denizen was not Nick's first entrepreneurial endeavor: he decide to pivot from an online liquor delivery service after 6 months.

Owning a house and renting it out provided greater financial flexibility.

"You can't have your cake and eat it, too. Put your own money in."

A SWOT analysis is everything.

A marketing plan is not just based on messaging.

It was a mistake to hire a PR firm.

Email info[at] - Nick takes the time to get back in touch with you.

This podcast hosted by New York attorney Michael Prywes was sponsored by Prywes Schwartz, PLLC, a law firm devoted to artists and entrepreneurs.

This podcast may contain attorney advertising. Prior results do not guarantee future outcomes.

Feb 18, 2016

John Temple teaches reporting and writing courses at West Virginia University. His specialty area is narrative nonfiction writing.

His new book 2016 Edgar Award nominee “American Pain” chronicles how two young felons built the largest painkiller distribution ring in the United States. The book, published by Rowman & Littlefield, also explores the massive rise in the use and abuse of narcotic painkillers over the past two decades.

Temple is the author of two previous nonfiction books: “The Last Lawyer: The Fight to Save Death Row Inmates” (2009) and “Deadhouse: Life in a Coroner’s Office” (2005). In 2010, “The Last Lawyer” won the Scribes Book Award from the American Society of Legal Writers. More information about Temple’s books can be found at

Prior to teaching at WVU, Temple taught and studied creative nonfiction writing at the University of Pittsburgh, where he earned an M.F.A. Temple worked in the newspaper business for six years. He was the health/education reporter for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, a general assignment reporter for the News & Record in Greensboro, N.C., and a government and politics reporter for the Tampa Tribune in Tampa, Fla.

Hollee Schwartz Temple is a journalist-turned-lawyer-turned-professor at West Virginia University College of Law. She is the co-author of Harlequin's "Good Enough is the New Perfect" and the textbook "West Virginia Legal Research."

After graduating at the top of her class with a combined bachelor’s and master’s degree from Northwestern, Hollee headed to Duke University School of Law. She graduated in 1999 and began a four-year stint as a litigation associate at a large Pittsburgh law firm. After her first son was born in 2002, Hollee returned to her firm part-time before joining the WVU faculty the next year.

An active scholar and speaker, Hollee has been published in newspapers (including the Miami Herald, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Michigan City News-Dispatch), national law reviews and legal writing publications. She has conducted seminars on generational issues and projecting professionalism in writing for large law firms.

John and Hollee have also been small business owners since 2013, when they opened the Morgantown, West Virginia's party destination beauty salon known as "The Beauty Bar."

Notes from the show:

John takes 6 months to a year to put together a book proposal. Hollee's proposal on her first book took 3-4 months. A book proposal contains sample chapters, outline, and Hollee's included a national survey she and her co-author Beck conducted.

Mentioned: The New Times article "Pain and Gain", David Simon's book Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets and the eponymous television show.

Warner Brothers bought the rights to "American Pain," to be adapted for the screen by Melisa Wallack.

"Figuring out who you want to talk to and who is at the center of your story and how to find them is a large portion of the process." 

"There's a human compulsion to tell your story."

"You can ask anybody almost anything as long as the think you really want to know [the answer]."

Mentioned: "Dreamland" - Sam Quinones

"It's a daily struggle [to balance work and home life]. And only one of us could be working on a book at one time."

The Beauty Bar draws on a theme from Hollee's book that women deserve to feel beautiful.

The California model of a "blowout bar" didn't translate to Morgantown, WV, so they pivoted the Beauty Bar to providing many more salon services.

Managing staff and personalities is the toughest part of being a small business owner.

Hollee is a big fan of BNI.

Mentioned: "The Price of Nice Nails"

Hollee gained a competitive advantage through social media and working with Mom blogs.

They are able to juggle home life and work a little more now that their kids are older. Priorities change as children grow. The kids are integrated into their work life. 

Academic jobs allow for their lifestyle.

Hollee can oversee a large staff by living close and having 10 security cameras connected to her cell phone.

Best business advice:

Hollee's: "I'm the heart of the business. I can't just give that away."

John's: "Stick with it until the 18 month point."

Best book writing advice:

John's: "You have to schedule your writing into your day and give it a prime spot in your day."

Hollee's: "I got up at 5 to write for a couple of hours before everyone else got up."

Recommended book: "The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield

This podcast hosted by New York attorney Michael Prywes was sponsored by Prywes Schwartz, PLLC, a law firm devoted to artists and entrepreneurs.

This podcast may contain attorney advertising. Prior results do not guarantee future outcomes.

Feb 11, 2016

Kimra Luna is a personal branding and online business strategist.  She helps freedom-seeking entrepreneurs to stand out, captivate their audiences’ attention and monetize their authentic brands online.

As a leading authority on the use of Facebook ads and webinar-based training as both list and brand building tools, she took her business from zero to over $880k in sales and cultivated an email list of over 14,000 subscribers from 50 countries around the world during her first year in business.

Kimra is the creator of Be True, Brand You, her signature online program which has hundreds of students enrolled.  Her Facebook group, The Freedom Hacker’s Mastermind has over 20,000 members and is widely regarded as one of the most interactive, generous and supportive groups for entrepreneurs online.

Kimra has been featured on websites including ForbesBusinessInsider, Farnoosh.TV, Chris, Female Entrepreneur and has been a speaker at Nathalie Lussier’s Off The Charts Live.

You can find Kimra on YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest and of course Facebook where she consistently provides advice and guidance to her group The Freedom Hacker’s Mastermind.

Notes from the show:

Freedom hacking is seeking a freedom-based lifestyle through technological advances; freedom is the ability to make your own hours, choose your own clients, etc.

Even though Kimra seems to be an overnight success, she spent 8 years growing online mom's groups and health and wellness groups before exploding with Freedom Hacker's Mastermind.

Facebook is not like email or other social media--no need for email blasts. Instead, people appreciate that you spend time and give value without feeling overwhelmed by information.

"In Defense of Facebook" and "The Gift of Gratitude"

She got her start in concert booking and led a music industry life until the economy collapse in 2008.

She spent the four years prior to her "million dollar year" on welfare.

Social media, especially Facebook, saved her life.

"People want to buy from people, not a logo."

She started her business by messaging potential clients how they would prefer to learn. Their answer? Webinars.

Be True, Brand You is a comprehensive program; it is not "niched down." 

In the age of trolling and mommy/daddy wars, entrepreneurship allows for unconventional parenting.

"Dumb-Ass Stuff We Need to Stop Saying to Dads"

Her superpowers include teaching and being intuitive about people who are givers and people who are takers.

Pat Flynn's Smart Passive Income and Ask Pat podcasts

This podcast hosted by New York attorney Michael Prywes was sponsored by Prywes Schwartz, PLLC, a law firm devoted to artists and entrepreneurs.

This podcast may contain attorney advertising. Prior results do not guarantee future outcomes.

Feb 4, 2016

Charlie McWade is a voice over artist who graduated NYU in 1996 with a BFA in drama from Tisch School of the Arts. Since then, he has worked in television, film and theater. I can tell you that all these years later, when we have gone out for a drink or a slice of pizza, he still has been recognized for his memorable role in the cinematic cult hit ‘Road Trip’ produced by Dreamworks and directed by Todd Phillips. But for the last 15 years, Charlie’s focus has been on voice over work. He has recorded over a thousand TV and Radio spots, lent his voice to several animated series and videogames including the Grand Theft Auto franchise, and has narrated seven full length audiobooks. You can also often hear Charlie’s voice on Nickelodeon.

Notes from the show:

Charlie first discovered acting at Buck's Rock Camp in New Milford, CT.

He breaks down the different departments of an agency and the subdivisions of types of voice overs themselves.

College provided excellent education but did not prepare him for the professional world.

He fell into voice overs by accident.

He recommends taking classes with casting directors. Two of the top casting directors he mentions are Stacey Seidel and Lisa Fischoff at Broadcasters.

We discussed Stephen Colbert's performance of "What a to do to die today" during a  commencement speech.

He recommends Steve Martin's "Born Standing Up" for creative inspiration.

His mentor in the Sanford Meisner technique is Terry Knickerbocker.

He advises diversifying value, creating multiple streams of revenue to deal with the instability of the industry.

To succeed in voice over work, you need to maintain "The Ease."

No performer should be content with his/her technique.

Reinvention comes from getting pushed out of your comfort zone.

Voice over work doesn't lend itself to having a daily routine.

We discussed his FOMO (fear of missing out), and how a voice over artist needs to have a willingness to have a wrench thrown into the gears.

This podcast hosted by New York attorney Michael Prywes was sponsored by Prywes Schwartz, PLLC, a law firm devoted to artists and entrepreneurs.

This podcast may contain attorney advertising. Prior results do not guarantee future outcomes.