A sit down with a Side Hustler turned Entrepreneur
We spoke with Brand Strategist (amongst many other things), Daniel P. Calderon to get some insight on what it is like to be a Jack of all trades. Daniel is among a growing list of most influential entrepreneurs and leaders in the world of Side Hustling and is by all means someone we look up to having seen his professional and personal growth throughout the years. With the recent release of Unapologetic Me, semi finalist at the, Alternative Film Festival, we felt it was time to speak to the man behind it all!
Very excited to sit down with you! I know you have a busy schedule turning into a serial entrepreneur so let’s start off with the basic three “W’s” for those that may not know you.
Q: Who are you? Where are you from (born)? And what do you do?
Daniel: My name is Daniel P. Calderon, I’m from Brooklyn, NY, and I am a Brand Strategist and Film Producer.
Q: We were first introduced to you three years ago when you were Co-Founder of the Four-Thirty Agency and have since watched you indulge in many other endeavors. How would you describe your personal business and what it represents?
Daniel: I have about 10 different jobs so titling myself as a Brand Strategist was the best description I could find, LOL. My team and I help companies increase profitability through impactful branding, digital marketing and experiential events. I also produced my first film with Justin Dominic and a fantastic team combined of photo, music and dance artists. I will produce and participate in more films this year. My focus is to continue to tell stories that otherwise wouldn't be told. My representation matters and I cannot wait for anyone to tell my story.
Q: "Representation" has definitely become a key topic this year and the fight for it has definitely increased. What inspired you to take action to provide more outlets for representation?
Daniel: I have spent so much energy in creating pitch decks and etc. to hear a resounding amount of NO’s. At first, I felt that my ideas weren't good enough but I quickly learned that the research doesn't lie –– minority start-ups are severely underfunded. I refused to wait for my turn and started boot-strapping every financially viable idea I was passionate about. Through my many hard lessons, I felt it was necessary to share my experiences with other entrepreneurs so that I can help change the narrative one conversation –– and soon –– film at a time.
Q: You make mention of your team often. From experience, we know that finding not only a trustworthy business partner, but a trustworthy team is generally difficult. What practices do/did you incorporate to ensure you chose a strong team that share your vision?
Daniel: This is an important question. Friendships, romantic relationships or a talented stranger all can make great business partners. I have had a couple of failed partnership in all of these categories and the biggest lesson I have learned is to ensure I enter agreements and ask uncomfortable question before I jump all the way in. One tip I will share, is to create an exit strategy with your business partner while things are good, because it can be close to impossible to amicably make a decision when the relationship is not as pleasant. Failed business partnership relationship doesn't necessarily mean that the other partner isn't a good business person or a good human being – it just means that chemistry isn't great. Breathe and then continue to be brilliant.
Q: On the topic of unpleasant and uncomfortable, could you share some of the struggles that came with building your business?
Daniel: There are too many struggles to list hahaha. In my experience, one of my biggest struggles was access. I still have to fight hard for access to business resources (besides what's Google-able), of course funding, and powerful networks.
Q: One of our main missions at Curated Vibes is to help the Side Hustler build and develop meaningful connections morphing their network to feel more like a community. What does Community mean to you?
Daniel: Community is a collective responsibility for the wellbeing of a group of people. If it weren't for community, I wouldn't be where I am today. I belong to a few different communities. The support looks different in each, but all important and greatly contributes to my wellbeing and growth.
Q: New York definitely has its own sense of culture as well as communities. What does living in New York mean to you?
Daniel: Living and working in New York keeps my energy super high. My peers and I challenge and affirm each other everyday. I am a proud New Yorker. Speed is Life.
Q: Speed definitely is life, and it is a normancy for all New Yorkers. However, it can become difficult to stay motivated and focused especially in a distracting city like New York. What do you do when you feel uninspired, discouraged, or overwhelmed with distractions?
Daniel: I find my happy space. This can mean to spend a day listening to great music, while locking myself in my bedroom or treating myself to a Netflix and chill day alone. If an entrepreneur is experiencing high anxiety or other mental health issues, I suggest that he/she contact a trusted professional. We sometimes can be addicted to our distractions and not be able to identify them. Quiet time, asking myself tough questions and giving myself the agency to answer truthfully – helps me to identify distraction and reconcile my fear of eradicating them.
Q: I like how you mentioned that your peers challenge and affirm you every day. How do you operate on the mindset of community over competition?
Daniel: I believe there is enough money in the world to share amongst all of my peers and friends. I think the competitive mindset exists to create dissension. Making a choice to be collaborative and not competitive serves my spirit and eventually will serve all of our pockets.
Q: I think that has been a detrimental issue within the Black community in the past. Thankfully we are in the midst of fixing that mindset and banding together. What does being Black mean to you?
Daniel: To me, being black means the ability to love in an environment that is set up for our demise. One of the most important factors of our survival wasn't only based on our strength to fight – but it was and is, also, our deep love for our loved ones that keep us going. The strength of love conquers all.
Q: To take it one step further, what does being a man mean to you in today's society?
Daniel: My definition of manhood has positively evolved and is no longer the archaic ideal of men being the leader or showing brute strength. Being a man in society is taking responsibility for my own actions, it is teaching integrity to younger generations while leading by example and it is the show of strength to not quit despite difficulty.
Q: A shift on Mental Health towards the Black Community has become another trend this year. However, there is still a lack of focus on men’s mental health vs. that of women’s mental health. As a black man in today's society, what practices do you do in order to feel you have mental stability?
Daniel: I have experienced mental health challenges in my past and I believe the lack of knowledge – and the dangerous stigma created by fallacies I was taught as a child – greatly contributed to my poor experience. I've created a cocoon of support within my friends and some family. I'll seek professional support when I need extra support. My close friends know when to check on me even when I say I am 'ok.'
Okay let’s end on a lighter note and do a quick round of Word Play. First thing that comes to mind when you read or hear the following:
Culture - Art
Influencer - Overused
Ambassador - Better description than influencer lol
Trump - Ridiculous
New York - Home
Entrepreneur - The best thing I’ve done in life
Side Hustle - A necessity
Self Made - Proud of accomplishment
Creative - A way of life
Vibes - Must be positive
Minority - Proud to be Black
Unconventional - Disruptive or just artsy
Underdog - Potential
Diversity - Needs to be a culture not a checklist