Success is usually met with a busy lifestyle. Everyone from executives to famous preachers opt for the time saving luxury of a private jet. Recently, several new companies have entered the market to give their spin on the luxury service. M2 Aviation Group is offering more than a spin, but great quality service. MillionaireMatch spoke with Bret Lockett, partner in M2 Jets and former NFL player on taking the leap into entrepreneurship. He shared with us his top tips for success.
MillionaireMatch: How did you become a partner with M2 Aviation?
Bret Lockett: My business partner and very good friend, Moshe Malamud, started the company in 2010. When we met, I was still playing football at the time.
MM: Why did you decide to get into the aviation industry?
Lockett: I always like to say people fall into a business because they are interested in it or they have a family member or friend in it. For me, it’s both. It’s something I saw the need for in the private aviation space. Even though private jets are a luxury service, most people aren’t treated the way they should be treated for paying for a luxury service like flying privately. My partner Moshe who has been flying privately for over 20 years, was tired of experiencing mechanical issues on the tarmac, and dealing with inexperienced brokers. For $20k to $30k per trip, he felt like the experience could be better. He bought his own plane and realized he had a lot of friends and colleagues that flew privately. Got his second plane, and created a niche service that is needed.
MM: What sets you apart in addition to great customer service?
Lockett: The biggest differentiation from other private aviation services is that we understand the mindset of some of the most successful people in the world. That’s who owns the company. Moshe is the former Executive Chairman of The Franklin Mint, a billion dollar company.
I’ve played in the NFL which is a something that a small percentage that play football make it to that level. When you are dealing with successful people, they have to be in a certain mindset to walk into a meeting, game or if they are an artist, hop on the stage for a concert. They have to be there with a clear mind and intentions. Understanding that time is an important thing that you can’t buy more of. We understand that making sure they are getting from point A to B as seamless as possible with the most exquisite meals, best drinks, champagne, and whatever else they require.
MM: Can you talk about other businesses that you have started?
Lockett: I started a record label when I was playing football. I also invested in a ground transportation company in Florida. Neither of them did very well. Those were my first cracks at starting a business.
MM: What did you learn from those failed businesses?
Lockett: Patience. I think that’s something we all learn soon or later in life. With my first company, a record label in which I was an artist on the label, I realized that once you take a passion to a business you actually have to have a plan and strategy-having an outcome and being able to measure the outcome. When I invested in the ground transportation company in Florida, I invested moreso as a friend than an investor. My biggest lesson there was understanding that friends are friends and business is business. If you plan to invest for business, you need to really be patient and make sure it’s something you believe in, not just the concept but the person behind the company.
MM: What additional advice would you give entrepreneurs?
Lockett: If business isn’t your background or you didn’t study business in school, you are going to have to learn by trial and error, and applying yourself. One of the best ways to accelerate yourself is to find at least three people that have done something at one of the highest levels or the highest level that you can get in contact with. I say that because most of the time you aren’t going to be able to get Elon Musk on the phone to ask him about your startup idea, but there are some people in your network who wouldn’t mind spending 30 minutes to an hour with you go over your business idea.
MM: Did you take any lessons learned in the NFL into being an entrepreneur?
Lockett: Absolutely. It’s so synonymous it’s almost scary. As a professional athlete, nothing is guaranteed. Well, at least for me. In the NFL, there are no guaranteed contracts no matter what deal you sign. You can get released at any point during or prior to the season. Understanding that your next day is your best day, and your last day is your best day as well. Everyday that you wake up as an entrepreneur, you’re still unemployed. You still have something to prove. You’re not cracking away at a nine to five and having someone else pay you. It’s not how it works, and that’s how the NFL is. As an entrepreneur, you are going against some of the top business minds in the world, major corporations with tons of capital, people who have sold businesses and are now going into other markets, and those who have friends and resources behind them. If you don’t have those capabilities, you are going to have to figure out what your intrinsic value is and what you can bring to the table. A great way to jumpstart that is getting mentors and the right people around you, and figuring out what strengths you have and filling those weaknesses with smart people.
Not everyone is great at financials. Entrepreneurs are creative people. A lot of financial people aren’t great at being entrepreneurs, because they are so focused on the financials. You have to be able to balance both and see the big picture.
MM: What type of mindset do you have to have as an entrepreneur?
Lockett: There’s two types of people I think. There’s people that wake up and say this is the way the world is and i’m going to fit into it. Other people wake up and say this is my world, and I’m going to make it how I want it to be. As an entrepreneur, you have to be the second person. You have to be able to wake up everyday and say this is my world. I’m going to make it what I want it to be. A lot of times things are not going to go your way but, with consistent effort it will eventually happen.
It might be that it’s not meant to happen. It may not be the right time, strategy, team or the right leader which is you. You have to look at yourself and ask what skills do I need to develop to be able accomplish what I need to get to the next level. If you look at an organization that struggles, nine times out of ten it’s a leadership issue.
MM: You talk about having the right team and it being the right time, when have you had to make an uncomfortable pivot?
Lockett: The biggest pivot that I’ve made is working on myself more than working on my career. It’s never about what you do, it’s more about who you are. Instead of looking outward saying its the market, we don’t have enough market share, or not enough private jets, or enough clients I look at myself. What kind of person do I need to be to build a team of successful charter brokers to be with out clientele.What person do I have to be to be able to sit down with some of the most successful people in the world to convince them to use our service versus what they have been using for years? I always take a look inward first. If I’m doing what I need to do personally, then I’ll look at outside factors.
MM: What is next for M2, and do you have any other entrepreneurial endeavors you want to leap into?
Lockett: We’ve been able to expand from a small startup in New York with one aircraft, now we have 20. What we are looking to do in the next three years is expand our aircraft to a fleet of 30, and offer international service. We do have international clients, but we want a bigger presence.
We also want to break into the shuttle market. I believe the future of travel is headed into that direction.
I’m passionate about helping others, speaking and motivating others to live out their dreams. I was really able to live out my dream at a young age. I‘m not exactly sure what my next endeavors will be, but philanthropy is something I do and coaching. Those are some of my passions that may lead to something else.
For more information on M2 Aviation Group, be sure to check them out at m2jets.com.
You may know him as the high energy real estate broker from Million Dollar Listing New York, but Luis D. Ortiz stumbled into the market after brokering his own deal. Bravo’s popular show has opened the doors to some of New York’s most chic homes as well as the life of three real estate brokers including Ortiz. The world met Ortiz during the second season of the show, but he was already known as a filmmaker before getting in front of the camera. MillionaireMatch got the scoop on Ortiz and what it’s like being a million dollar maker.
In 2007, Ortiz was working on his second film. The New York Film Academy graduate returned from Belize disappointed in the footage he had. “To this day, no one has ever seen a cut of that film,” he said. Ortiz also recalled needing an apartment as he had been couch surfing. But having no credit in the U.S. or an income made that difficult. Ortiz was able to finagle a deal on apartment that he and his apartment in. A 475 square feet apartment in the financial district for $2400 a month that the landlord suggested they build a wall to create two bedrooms was the first deal Ortiz brokered. It may not sound like the best deal, but that moment propelled him to become a real estate success.
“I realized I have the ability to connect with people and inspire people,” Ortiz said about what makes him successful. “I think there is something much bigger than brokering transactions. Never aim for money. The money will come with,” he added. Fast forward to getting a call from a Los Angeles casting director looking for a new face for Million Dollar Listing New York. “I was just focused on doing the best I could do,” he explained as to how he was found. “I believe there’s is something unique in each of us. If we take the approach of not what we think we should do to get what we think we should get. But when we do that we stop being ourselves. We make the wrong decisions, and we take the wrong approach,” Ortiz added.
With all the success, something still didn’t feel quite right anymore. In 2016, Ortiz announced he would be leaving the show after four seasons. His mind was no longer stimulated. He also admits being relieved and scared at the same time when he announced his departure from the show. Not knowing what would come next was uncomfortable. He decided to take a 26-day trip. “Being self-aware is very powerful. I realized that people, that when they saw the show I wasn’t the one who sold the most. But people would stop me on the street. Not to say that was a nice place you sold last week,” he said. Ortiz understood that he was inspiring people around the world. “I think that’s why I have succeeded. My only focus is how much can I bring to myself to grow,” he explained.
Ortiz offered his advice to young entrepreneurs, “People should focus enough to find out what gets them excited.” He also said, “I never aim for money.” His excitement allows him to do whatever it takes to get what he wants, eventually. And on the subject of rejection,“It’s not because of you. They will say no to anybody.”
We can’t wait to see what Ortiz will get into next, and we’re sure it will be successful. Check out some of the new episodes of Million Dollar Listing New York on Bravo at bravotv.com.
Men’s fashion has evolved and expanded, but Paul Smith has been a consistent brand offering men quality pieces. With big names like Armani and Versace as well as new designers popping up every day, it is a wonder how Paul Smith has been able to stay a force in the fashion industry. MillionaireMatch took a dive into the designer’s world.
Smith, who was born in Nottingham, took on bike racing at age 12. Even though he admits he wasn’t as strong and didn’t think he would be successful long-term, he raced until age 18. An accident that left him in recovery for months, lead him to think of other career options. Smith started to make silk screen t-shirts and sell them in London. Later, he met a woman who designed clothes but had no clue as to how to open up a shop. Smith, who had no previous experience, volunteered to handle the business part of opening up a brick and mortar.
Smith met his wife Pauline when he was only 21 years of age. By this time, he had been managing the shop for three years. His soon-to-be wife worked at a nearby college teaching about fashion. “Because I have lots of stability at home, I’m not searching for anything. I don’t feel the need to go to the private views and kissy, kissy parties. It doesn’t appeal to me,” he says about being married to the love of his life and how it helps him as a businessman.
The Paul Smith brand may be considered a high-end label, but Smith has his own definition of luxury. “The privilege of freedom is luxury to me. The privilege of silence and being able to make your own decisions is luxury to me,” he said. “I have a love of life. I’m not motivated by money, just the joy of life. The joy of touch, conversation, the joy of emotion and obviously it is very nice to be successful as well,” he added.
His first items for the Paul Smith brand were suits of course. The suits were designed to be worn to funerals, weddings or a job interview. By the 1980s when Smith worked with Armani, he began to shift the style to a softer look that could be worn for different occasions. Even though their options expanded, Smith was not in a hurry to open up shops everywhere. When other brands would open five stores a year, he would open only two. His tactic was to do it slow and not push, which he says has helped him stay in the game. Also, quality of his product.
“It’s always been very wearable,” he said. “Paul Smith has always been about character and individuality,” he explained. He noted some designers are more creative than his brand but lack on quality. He does encourage new designers to have a point of view. “The key to creativity is spontaneity. You just got to go for it. By the time you deliberate, someone who is in the fast lane will overtake you,” he said.
Smith still gets up for his morning swim at 5 am and heads to the office at 6 am to make sure he is plugged into the brand he loves dearly. “The satisfaction I get is that every day is a new beginning,” Smith said. The company has seemed some challenges with a loss of revenue in the last year, but Smith remains positive that Paul Smith is here to stay.
For more information on the brand, visit paulsmith.com.
Adversity has been the prerequisite for success for many in history. That holds true for Marcus Samuelsson who is one of the most celebrated chefs today. Samuelsson has worked at some of the most prestigious restaurants in the world before opening one of Harlem’s landmark restaurants, Red Rooster Harlem, which sits right on the corner of 125th street. The journey hasn’t been easy, but it looks to be worth it. MillionaireMatch got the inside scoop on Samuelsson’s tasty rise to the top.
At age 3, Samuelsson and his sister were adopted after their mother fell ill to tuberculosis. Her death would take them from Ethiopia to Sweden to live with their new family. Though Samuelsson admits his adopted mom was horrible in the kitchen, it was his grandmother who exposed him to good cooking. “Her cooking came out of poverty,” he said. He had short dreams to play soccer professionally, and soon changed his focus to cooking. From age 16 to his early 20s he traveled the world to learn the art of cooking. “Cooking on the line is brutal. It’s a young woman and young man’s game,” Samuelsson said.
After finally making his way to France, Samuelsson worked at Restaurant Georges Blanc where people travel from all over the world to dine there. This served to be a very important training ground for Samuelsson.
Samuelsson made his next stop in New York. “When I came to New York, being the only black person in a room was something I was trained for,” he said regarding the lack of black chefs.
“I was trained to be the only one in my room. I was trained by my parents,” he added. Aquavit, a Scandinavian restaurant nestled in lower Manhattan, would be his home for some time. When he was offered the job to be the head chef, he was a little nervous. “It’s a famous restaurant. I didn’t want to be the guy to close it,” he said jokingly. Well he did take the job, and became the youngest chef to ever receive a 3 star review in the New York Times.
The tragic events of 911 left many devastated. Samuelsson knew a lot of chefs, servers and cooks who worked in those buildings. He began to think of what he truly wanted in life. “I started to think about what am I doing? Is this going to be my life to cook for the richest people in the world every night? I started to think what is it that I can do next,” he said. He then decided to move to Harlem. He set his eyes on opening a restaurant, but he took 7 years to learn the culture of the community.
“The most emerging markets are inner city America,” Samuelsson said. He wanted to bring aspirations to the Harlem community. “The purpose was to create something to inspire and aspire. The purpose was to create jobs of the trade. We hire from the community,” he said. “I don’t measure a restaurant on how busy it is. I measure it on the reason and the goals I put the restaurant there,” he said.
Samuelsson offered advice to those looking to make their mark in the restaurant industry. “The value of being a chef is because you want to express something,” he said. “To be a chef you have to have a good sense of ambition and aspiration to always push forward. You have to know yourself, where your roots are and your strengths,” said Samuelsson.
On your next trip to New York, be sure to head to Harlem for a tasty meal with Chef Samuelsson. Check out their site at redroosterharlem.com.
Traveling is a luxury that most of us want more of. What if traveling the world becomes your job? Well, that’s what happened to Gil Antolin, founder of Luxury World Traveler. MillionaireMatch talked to him about how he went from losing everything to gaining the whole world.
In 2008, the U.S. began to feel the consequences of a crashing financial market. Layoffs were high, and large companies were closing. Antolin didn’t have the luxury of escaping the mortgage crash. His real estate company ended as he lost three of his homes. As if that wasn’t enough, this time caused him to lose cars and his fiancé. “I couldn’t control what was happening to me personally and financially. It was one of the most helpless feelings I ever had as an adult,” Antolin said.
After a push from a friend, to get his mind off of all the things crashing around him, Antolin began to plan a two-week mission trip to Uganda. “Being in Africa felt like I was on another planet,” he said. They raised $200k to help orphans get uniforms and school equipment. As a thank you, the children put on a performance for Antolin and the other volunteers. “I just remember the joy that was exuding from these children while singing and performing in the midst of having nothing. So much more joy than I’d seen in people from the U.S.” he said. It was an emotional moment for Antolin as he watched them being overjoyed at having Coca-cola for the first time. It was this experience that made two things clear for him. “I realized in an instant how blessed I was, even though I was losing all these material things. I still had more than these people. I had electricity, water, and I had opportunity. I could bounce back. It helped me recover from what was going on. It was an extremely impactful moment in my life, and it forever changed my path in what I wanted to do.” Antolin now feels that paying it forward to those who can’t pay you back and being able to travel and immerse himself in different cultures are two things that must be part of his life.
Antolin soon started an Instagram page sharing some of his favorite travel spots and places he desired to go. It got to the point he would spend up to six hours a day on Instagram. Speaking of travel, we had to know his top three places to go. We weren’t surprised when he said Maldives, Spain and Bali.
Now that Antolin has a successful business, he sees the difference between being a workaholic and doing something you are passionate about. “I was overweight, smoking and stressed out a lot. I was not me. The whole focus was on money. It was still work. I considered it work. When I shifted my mind and started my Instagram account, I hadn’t perceived Luxury World Travel as work,” he said. Fortunately, Antolin became a travel influencer before influencers were a thing. With just 200k followers, Antolin began to generate revenue in addition to free trips and hotel stays. “One of the things people miss, unless you are a celebrity, your personal page and business page should be separate.” Also, having strategic collaborations can help you increase your following faster.
Currently, Antolin is working on his latest business Book Smarter, a travel membership that gives you access to affordable accommodations and way to earn free travel. The business is in beta.
Travel has been a complete paradigm shift for Antolin, and he’s ready to take on 2018. He’ll be taking on Belize, Dominican Republic, Bora Bora, Laos and Croatia to name a few. “I’ve never been to a place I didn’t enjoy. I think each location has something to offer. That’s why I love traveling. It’s like a new story with each new place,” he shared. To keep track of his adventures, follow him on Instagram @luxuryworldtraveler. Don’t worry if you turn green from all the photos, check out booksmartertravel.com for your next travels.