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In 2011 serial entrepreneur Steven Picanza’s world crumbled within a 6-month timeframe. His business needed a pivot. He’d gotten stabbed in the neck by a homeless man. He was forced to start from scratch with a huge decision on his hands – does he allow what happened to be a defining moment or does he use it as a motivational tool?

He chose the latter and leveraged it as fuel to rebuild certain parts of his business, start a new business and make better decisions in all areas of his life.

Latin & Code is his brand and marketing consultancy that he owns with his wife. The Creative Hustler is his behind the scenes podcast and blog where he shares his experience consulting brands and bringing entrepreneurs practical knowledge and tactics to live successfully.

In this podcast episode, we talk about the importance of dropping your ego as an entrepreneur to allow yourself to be teachable. We talk about the struggles that come with being a business owner. He also shares his story of selling his agency in 2012, and work after selling the agency.

Allow yourself to be a sponge. Be teachable. Know that you don’t know everything and the world doesn’t revolve around you. - Steven Picanza Click To Tweet

In This Episode of the Start Fierce Business Podcast:

  • Steven shares his entrepreneurial journey including his story of selling his business in 2012 and work after selling the business.
  • He shares advice on why you need to drop your ego to be a successful business owner.
  • We talk about the importance of allowing yourself to be a sponge and learn new things.
  • He challenges you to think humbly and openly.
  • We also discuss social media being a highlight reel – an awesome view into people’s lives, but it doesn’t show the struggle that comes with attaining the success they portray on social media.
  • We talk about the struggles that come with being a business owner and how you need to know when to turn lemons into lemonade.
  • He also shares his why – which is his love of creating experiences for people.

Steven’s Favorite Online App:

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Reach Out to Steven:


Note: Transcripts are created automatically and are not 100% accurate. However, they help our visitors find relevant content using our website’s search feature.

Welcome to the show, Steven. Hey, Cindy. Thanks for having me. stoked to be here. Great to have you on before we get into the business side of things. Tell me about yourself outside of business. Sure. Is there anything else is this is the question? No, originally from Long Island, New York, and then moved out to San Diego. And that’s where I met my wife who’s from Boston and now my business partner in our consultancy called lightning code

other than that I am I love music. I’m a musician I played music My whole life and

really that was my first stint into business with marketing my my band back you know, 20 some odd years ago and figure out how we can get gigs and since then I’ve been a you know, really addicted to this idea of living at the intersection of creativity and business so outside of my my quote unquote work life I’m just constantly trying to learn play music and impact as many

people as I can in a positive way. So tell me about your business and how you started that. I’ve always been a marketer. I was a marketing major in college. And then I started my first agency right out of college in about 2007. And I had an agency for about five years. And we were working on some really cool projects, doing branding, marketing strategy, social media strategy, you know, social media at the time was so new and so foreign to brand and then, you know, within my walls of the agency, we we incubated a startup software, a SAS software which I still own To this day, which is for residential and commercial properties. I’m almost like a property management software and then we close our doors in 2012 of the agency sold off some of our

some of our other projects and I decided to go work for another larger agency because I loved you know what they were about and the the

types of clients that they were dealing with. And I got to work on some amazing brands, The Art of Shaving, Lacoste Mirage, hotel, casino, Sony, and then from there kind of bounced around to another agency. And eventually in about 2013, my girlfriend at the time now, wife, Melissa and I were basically at a crossroad where we decided, you know, what better time than right now to really do what we want to do and create a lifestyle that works for us, and we started a consultancy called Latin and code and we are a brand and marketing consultancy. And, you know, we work with medium to small to medium sized businesses, you know, somewhere between the $500,000

mark about $10 million on creating proactive brand strategies that are scalable and sustainable. And also we are strategic advisors with the agency guy where really we come in on from a strategic consultancy perspective.

And provide value to the brand in the hope of aligning you with the right marketing firm or the right branding firm. Because within the marketing world, there are so much smoke and mirrors. And there’s a lot of, I don’t want to say bad marketers, but singular marketers who only look at marketing from a singular perspective as opposed to a holistic perspective. And I truly come in sort of as your interim cmo to help you make smarter marketing decisions. And that kind of brings us to present day although there is a couple other things I do. But I’m sure that I’ll just kind of leak out throughout the rest of this interview. What made you keep working after you sold your agency I mean, this is I’m always going to work I mean, this is this is a lifestyle. This isn’t like I’m not looking towards retirement. And I’m not looking towards the day where I finally hang up and say, Well, I’m done. You know, like fashion. You know, my world never, never ends and I love providing value. I love helping entrepreneurs.

solidify their vision and I love helping businesses really make sense of their business model and and really formulate a brand and you know i’m i’m a i’m an educator I teach at a couple universities on branding and I everything I do I start out with branding misconceptions because there’s a lot of misconceptions that happened when we talk about branding when we talk about marketing

and and i want to i feel like it’s my purpose to illuminate some of those misconceptions and and again help businesses and entrepreneurs just make smarter decisions so they’re not wasting money they’re not wasting time and and they’re being efficient. And so you know, after getting rid of the agency and I just wanted to learn more I wanted to work I’m a creative I love being in a creative agency environment where ideas there are there are no sacred cows in regards to ideas and anything is possible and everything is possible and being able to take that and weave it into like my current lifestyle now or

My wife and I were able to travel we don’t we don’t have an apartment at the moment we just came back from three months in Italy where we lived and worked there you know, it just it worked for us at the moment and it’s something that will continuously work for us because I’m so passionate about what I do and I am so you know I don’t necessarily work for you know, quote unquote the paycheck I work for the the progress and the value I can provide. When did you know that you were an entrepreneur I have a hard time with that word sometimes because I feel like it did overplayed where than anyone can use it. When I was younger. My first business was collecting bottles and cans on my grandfather and turning them into nickels and dimes. And at that point, it wasn’t a Sir, I want to be an entrepreneur. So I want to make I want to make it on my own. I want to do my own thing. And I think you know, my my problem with the word entrepreneur is it doesn’t necessarily tell you what you do. Anyone could be an entrepreneur, but what do you really do? Like what is the problem

You saw into what market so very early on, I’ve always been a self starter and a go getter go getter what whether that was a bottle and can business I started with my grandfather or when I was a musician and hustling to get gigs with my band and being a professional musician for five years, six years to even you know I did Improv Theater and it was the same thing to her, you know, it’s not going to happen unless I do it. And there were no

you know, there were there was no silver platter that I can just pick from if I wanted something I just had to do it. So, you know, call it an entrepreneurial

you know, call it the entrepreneur bone in your body or just the fact that like, yo, if I don’t do it, it’s not going to get done. Tom is going to do it and what’s your greatest challenge as an entrepreneur you know everyone talks about you know, work life balance and I kind of think that’s that’s a little it’s harmonizing work and life and I think you know, as I get older and

You know, as this becomes truly a lifestyle, it’s, you know, what, how do I learn how to shut off? And how do I learn how to take time for myself? And, you know, just like any other, you know, business professional who loves what they do sometimes, you know, that just becomes all that you do. So it’s that harmony aspect of being able to incorporate other aspects of life into my day to day. Hmm, yeah, that’s so important to have that or at least try to achieve some kind of work life balance. And when you don’t have somebody telling you what to do and when to do it. It’s especially hard to figure that out what advice you have for someone that is just getting started or wanting to get started in business. Yeah, comes down. You know, Cindy, it comes down to dropping the ego. We all have such a large ego. The startup world is full of ego. The business world is full of ego, and I think those who are truly

successful and happy have learned to leave the ego at the door and allow yourself to be a sponge to be able to be teachable to be able

to constantly know that you do not know everything and that the world does not revolve around you. I think that is the biggest lesson. And I think when we can we can we can dish you know, when we can bring that wall down, that we all kind of put in front of us, that is our ego, then we’re able to achieve things that we never thought possible. And I challenge new entrepreneurs or new people in business, you know, I challenged them to think humbly and to think open as opposed to thinking that the world revolves around their startup their idea or their you know, creative endeavors. Yeah, cuz you can get super high minded and somebody tells you something that and then you get the total opposite effect.

You kind of I’ve seen it to where people have wanted to give up because somebody told them that they have a competitor that they didn’t know about. And you have to learn how to balance that not be too high minded but also not let a competitor or something like that, like knock you down. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we’re kind of where we live in the world of the highlight reel. We see it every day on social media. You see it every day on on wherever you look, the highlight reel, you know, you’re only seeing what what’s awesome in people’s lives and not being empathetic to what’s going wrong in their lives or the challenges they face and as a one sided viewpoint, and it is not correct and and there’s a lot of struggle that comes with with being in business. There’s a lot of struggle that comes with owning your personal brand. There’s a lot of struggle that comes from wanting to be a quote unquote entrepreneur and accepting that and you know

I was having this conversation earlier with another business partner of mine, you know, knowing when to turn lemons into lemonade. And any you know, every challenge can be an opportunity if looked at differently. Mm hmm. Aside from not wanting to work for someone else, and aside from your family, what’s your why

I am experience driven and I’m creative. And so everything that I do, I want to create an experience for someone. So this could be in the form of and I oftentimes we have dinner parties where I invite friends over, I cook for them, we talk business strategy, we talk whatever is going on in their life, and I’m creating an experience for them right there. But I love to cook and I love to host in that sense, if I’m creating a piece of music, I’m creating it for someone else. I have my own podcast, I’m creating a podcast. I’m not doing it for my own sake, I’m doing it for someone else I can share their story. So everything I do, I’m driven by experience. I’m driven by my own creative endeavor within that experience, and how I can make somebody else happy. It’s

You could have lunch with one business thought leader who would it be alive or dead it either

I think right now my biggest Who am I think I’m most interested in I would have to say Teddy Roosevelt

he just lived an extraordinary life and while the cards were dealt in his favor they also weren’t he had a health issues growing up that he had to overcome himself or a lot of people would just rewrite you know what would play the Oh poor me story and and, you know, want to cry in a corner he kind of hit hit hit his nail on the head and decided to rectify you know, his challenges and

and then No, no everything he did with his presidency and bringing the national parks and just his whole story is just so fascinating and I’d love to sit down and just share meal shares your beer or drink with him. And what’s your favorite book

Isn’t this book I went to South? I’m gonna go for the classic and it may be doesn’t have necessarily business and not a direct business book. But Marcus Aurelius his meditations. And I think if you can read that and understand what he is saying, from a stoic philosophy point of view, you could see how that relates to the business world and how really everything he talks about just relates to just being a better person without being a better business, business person, being a better woman being a better man, being a better husband, wife, mother, father, whatever, brother sister, it just allows you just to be a better person at every opportunity. And I think from a business perspective, it’s just invaluable information and what’s your favorite internet resource or app that just makes your life easier. Evernote?

I love Evernote, I use Evernote a lot for just know taking I love how connect to the cloud. I have it on my telephone. I have it on my laptop and you know I’m constantly on the go and so I’m able to share notes and yeah Evernote is definitely was a little bit of a game

Game Changer when I started using it a few years ago where can listeners find you online what’s what are your websites where can we find you on social media sure uh. So for the consultancy you can check out a www dot Latin and code dot com for my strategic advisor role with the agency I you could check out the agency guide. com for my behind the scenes and I share a lot of the inner workings of my consultancy on building brand on personal branding. I have my podcast and blog is the creative calm and then on social media there’s only wants to even be cons in the world. So I just got tired of my name in and i i i rank for my name on Google. I got all of the first page that is awesome. I do not know my name. You can’t even find me on Facebook or

so that kind of sucks. Well, thank you so much, Steven for sharing.

Your story with us today. Thanks for having me. Cindy. I had a blast.

Cindy Rodriguez is the host of the Start Fierce Business Podcast. When she’s not interviewing awesome entrepreneurs, she’s working on growing her startup, going to Disney World with her daughter, or reading a book.

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