In 2006, my two co-founders, Alan Dang and Navid Norouzi, and I came up with the idea of having a lifestyle platform, filled with incredible stories and illustrated with some of the world’s most beautiful imagery, dedicated to motivating our generation. This gave birth to the motivational platform that would help evoke entrepreneurship within people: Secret Entourage.
In 2011, I wrote a groundbreaking book entitled Third Circle Theory that would once more elevate people’s awareness and enable them to take control of their lives. In 2013, we released the next phase of Secret Entourage by creating the world’s first lifestyle entrepreneur academy in order to help bridge the gap between formal and self education. The Secret Entourage Academy was created as a resource where 200+ successful entrepreneurs are able to share their stories, struggles, journeys, and so much more. After devoting half a decade to helping the Generation Y, we evolve once more, both internally and externally, with the incredible Secret Academy Challenge where we help entrepreneurs and dreamers reach a whole new level of accomplishments by doing the impossible (or what others thought would be impossible).
Earlier this year, the Secret Entourage team started what would quickly garner worldwide attention: the Secret Academy Challenge. A six-month program where Academy members would set a measurable yet audacious goal and compete against one another to reach and surpass their goals. In doing so, they were able to push further together and hold each other accountable, thus helping one another stay on track without distractions.
Our first challenge started in January 2015 and over 400 applications were received. Out of those 400+ applicants, only 20 had set audacious goals that were measurable and had truly put in the effort necessary to move on to the next round. This challenge was created to push people to think big and hold themselves and each other accountable to reach goals they might not have thought were attainable before; therefore, only applicants who put in their hearts and efforts into their applications were accepted.
All 20 approved applicants were then asked to keep a journal in our community and not only begin to work on their goals, but also provide monthly progress reports such as bank statements, Paypal reports, or contracts and agreements. Thus the challenge began, and with the help of the Secret Entourage team and each other, all contestants would compete for the ultimate prize.
The top three finalists would receive the following:
A three-day getaway in South Florida with incredible minds from the Secret Entourage Academy coming together for masterminds, amazing fireside chats, and amazing 5-star hotel and dining experiences. There would also be a ton of swag valued at over $500, which included electronics and limited edition apparel courtesy of SE and its partners.
The finalist; however, would also go home $5,000 richer.
July of 2015 marked the closing of the world’s first Academy Challenge and as promised, three finalists were chosen and flown down to Palm Beach, Florida.
Here are the first three Secret Academy Finalists:
Damian Otero: A young entrepreneur who had already found success in retail sales and had decided for this challenge to push himself into real estate investing and the restaurant business. In just six short months, Damian not only opened a restaurant and made it profitable, but also started getting into real estate and purchased his first 6 homes. And as his final goal, he almost reached an additional $1M in revenue in his retail business. During six short months, Damian did what most people would take five years to do, but he was also able to buy himself his first Lamborghini.
Christopher Lozano: AKA “Vitamin Man” was a supplement reseller located out of Miami, Florida. Chris made a goal to open his first retail location and start a whole new smoothie bar concept. He also pledged to being profitable in that same timeframe. Despite many struggles, partnership issues, and unexpected obstacles, Chris was able to push himself forward and not only come through on all three of the goals he set himself, but actually do so in a manner greater than he ever expected. He opened a smoothie bar in the middle of a military base (don’t ask us how he did that), and he was able to generate over $400,000 in revenue from his first retail location. Truly remarkable for a bootstrapped entrepreneur.
David Siebo: A veteran to the 9-5 work force and previously involved with many startups, David was on a mission to break a revenue plateau he had faced for the past twelve months. His revenue had peaked at under $20K a month and continued to remain the same with no signs of improvement. After joining the challenge, David pledged to be able to break this plateau and push for major Fortune 500 clients to be added to his portfolio. In just six months, David doubled his monthly revenue (in some months tripled it) and was able to bring on Cisco as a client. Not only did David surpass his personal goal, but he was also one of the most involved challenge members who made sure that no one was left behind. David showed commitment and incredible teamwork.
All three contestants proved their accomplishments and came through with all of their desired goals, making them three incredible people that deserved all that was about to come.
On July 24th, 2015 we headed to the airport to pick up our three finalists in style, courtesy of MPH CLUB and their incredible Mercedes-Benz S550 and Escalade ESV.
They found themselves taken out to lunch and then dropped off at the 5-star Diamond Resort Eau de Palm Beach where they were given an incredible ocean view room with a welcome basket. All contestants also received carbon fiber cases for their phones courtesy of Carbon Trim Solutions, the latest iPad Mini, and a ton of Secret Entourage swag.
At dinner that evening, Shawn Thomas (AKA @askamillionaire) shared his business insights and met and dined with our contestants. What followed would be the highest viewed Periscope he ever broadcasted: incredible shenanigans at Club Honey with bottle service (what happened at Honey unfortunately can’t be disclosed LOL).
On July 25th, our finalists were getting ready for their big night where one of them would win the $5,000 grand prize but before that, they had the opportunity to watch me do a live success story of Shawn Thomas and learn some awesome tips on how he scaled a business from $0-20M in three years with no money or experience. We also had a special guest and veteran of SE’s coaching model, Kiran Ravindra, who founded and scaled Carbon Trim Solutions, a carbon fiber business, to $70,000 a month in revenue before he was 18-years-old. Kiran shared his story with our finalists and for an upcoming episode in the Academy.
The evening was getting close and our guests would begin arriving at our main event in Ft Lauderdale, Florida where we rented Yolo’s, one of South Florida’s hottest restaurants and club after hours. Despite some biblical rain, we still managed to get all the cars there safely, including our Maserati Quattroporte S and the Aston Martin DBS. Friends and other Academy teachers brought their awesome exotics to make it a fun-filled night.
Over 70 Academy members showed up to help us crown our challenge winner. Amongst our honorable guests and Academy teachers were Jason Stone AKA @millionaire_mentor, Shawn Thomas, and Chris Hodges, CEO of GoGiG. And of course all the incredible Academy members who all are working on their own awesome projects. The evening went on with an open bar and food catered, all our members got to network, meet one another, and of course take in all the eye candy sitting outside. As the night went on, I shared with our audience our mission at Secret Entourage and then of course, on to the awards.
Our winner of the first Secret Academy Challenge was none other than Christopher Lozano, who had worked hard to enter a new vertical, build a retail store, and grow $400,000 in revenue in a six month period. He was rewarded with a winning Crystal trophy and $5,000.
The evening continued with a private dinner for 20 very incredible people all having discussions and enjoying Yolo’s finest food and drinks.
The last day with our guests was going to be about having fun, so we reserved the ultimate go kart experience at Xtreme Action Park in Ft Lauderdale where everyone was going to compete in 40mph go-karts against one another. Some awesome racing and bets were taken, but magically once more Christopher Lozano won first place and the money pot. Followed by me in 2nd place crushing Damian Otero who came in 3rd (winning is winning, Damian). Our weekend ended with a final lunch in Miami at Ceviche 105.
All in all, an incredible weekend where everyone enjoyed each other’s company and where everyone was reminded that in business:
You do whatever you said you are going to do.
For the 2nd Academy Challenge, we have also decided to push ourselves up to the next level by committing $20,000 in prize money! Our new challenge will also be divided into two categories: one for beginners and one for seasoned entrepreneurs, making sure that two people are able to win this coming year.
If you have ever wondered why some people succeed further than others, it is simply because of their commitment to themselves, their teams, and those around them. It is because of their ability to surround themselves with incredible people and hold themselves to a higher standard. This is what every single person has within them and is capable of even if they have failed countless times before. We once innovated the business world by helping the rebirth of entrepreneurship, and we will once more disrupt and innovate the world by helping more people take ACTION.
For the full gallery of the Academy Challenge, please visit our events page, but you can also watch a video recap trailer: