Imagine if you had a crystal ball that enables you to see into your future – wouldn’t you use this crystal ball to avoid making any mistakes and use every possible opportunity to achieve success? Well, guess what? There is such a thing as a real-life crystal ball – and it comes in the form of a person you can turn to for solid advice about your business… that person is usually referred to as a “mentor.” Having a mentor is a must for any budding entrepreneur because they’re a valuable resource who have already experienced most of the challenges that you’re still currently going through. So in effect, they actually have a solution to those challenges.
Chris Graffagnino is one such mentor. Chris is a well known New York-born entrepreneur, business influencer, innovator, and avid traveler who is widely recognized as one of the most influential mentors in the world. A former law enforcement officer and combat veteran, he has used his experience in the security and risk mitigation industry and he has applied it to the business sector. With his unique skill set, Chris was able to develop a niche market in crisis management.
Chris was recently named as one of the ‘Top 10 Most Influential People in 2020’ by Yahoo Finance alongside big names such as Gary Vaynerchuk and Lisa A. Romano and for good reason. He has several accolades under his belt; besides being named as one of the Top 10 Most Influential People in 2020, he was also included in Yahoo Finance’s elusive “Top 10 Mentors to Follow in 2020” list. He has effectively developed several global businesses on and off Wall Street and he has several successful entrepreneurial ventures under his belt including a successful global risk solutions company. Chris actually specialises in business development and his passion is to help monetize a budding entrepreneurs’ ideas through his very own non-profit mentorship program “Settle4Success.” Through this detailed program, he’s helping emerging entrepreneurs develop their own businesses. He is helping them monetize and learn the ins and outs of the industry when it comes to business development and risk mitigation.
The Global Millionaire Magazine recently caught up with Chris to discuss his recent success, and find out how he is planning to continue to inspire everyone who wants to lead their business towards success and here’s what went down:
Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?
I am from Staten Island, New York and I guess you can say I am an entrepreneur (laughs). By experience, I’m a traveler and business developer. More importantly, I am a father to my two wonderful kids – Christopher and Chloe and husband to my amazing wife – Danielle. I started my career in law enforcement and took that same service with me to Afghanistan as an infantryman in the US Army. I have culminated all of that experience in security and risk management to the private sector where I’ve helped develop niche market areas in crisis management such as security evacuation and repatriation services. In 2016, I took my own risk (no pun intended) and co-founded a global risk management firm that provides cutting edge global security and logistics products and services. Most recently, I founded Settle4Success to provide mentorship to budding entrepreneurs.
Can you describe your journey to success? When did you start? Did you ever imagine you would become this successful?
I think my journey started when I was a teenager and my brother Michael and I started a landscaping company with our dad. I was 13 at the time and my dad was my mentor. He taught me about the importance of hard work and never quitting without me even realizing it. At the time, work seemed like a chore but I had no idea the impact starting my own business at that age would have on the rest of my life, even if it did take me a while to realize it. I believe everyone has success within them. It wasn’t until I was hurt in Afghanistan at 26 years old did I start wanting more out of myself. Furthermore, it wasn’t until I was 32 years old when I started connecting all the dots from different years of my life to finally realize what I was meant to do. This was the year I left working for someone else behind and promised to never be a part of the 9-5 grind ever again.
What are you currently doing to grow your business?
Social engineering is a critical aspect of business development. I take pride in developing my network and building relationships with my clients around the world. Settle4Success is my newest venture to help enlighten those struggling with finding success. I aim to mentor as many entrepreneurial minds as I can by sharing my experiences and knowledge in the hope that I can educate and motivate people into a successful business outcome.
What social media platforms do you usually use to increase your brand’s awareness?
Currently, my largest presence is on Instagram (@iamchrisgraff, @settle4success). I also utilize Facebook and Twitter as well.
What is your experience with paid advertising, like PPC or sponsored content campaigns? Does it work?
I am very aware of paid advertising; however, I still believe in old-school social engineering, more specifically, targeting industry hashtags and accounts and engaging in direct conversation to introduce yourself and connect through similar interests. This helps build stronger, longer-lasting relationships and can ultimately provide better business exchanges. I do not sell any products or services via the internet; however, I directly engage in conversation with hundreds of social media accounts daily to continue to drive brand awareness for my mentorship platform.
What is your main tactic when it comes to making more people aware of your brand and engaging your customers?
Settle4Success is new in the sense of it providing a free platform for entrepreneurs to connect, download educational material, and network with other likeminded individuals. It is a chance to be motivated and inspired to monetize one’s ideas and dreams. The uniqueness about it is that it’s free. I always say follow your passion, not money. If you follow your passion the money will come. My passion is to help others. In the case of Settle4Success, helping others achieve their version of success through business development is my goal.
What new business would you love to start?
I think starting Settle4Success allows me to see into many new business opportunities. Who knows, I may invest or become partners with ones that catch my attention!
If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were first making a name for yourself, what advice would you give yourself?
I would tell myself to hold on to the days of having nothing to lose a little longer. When you first start you take big risks, you have nothing to lose and stress is minimal. When you start experiencing success, you can lose everything. That fear of going back to nothing causes hesitation. You’re not willing to take on such risks anymore because you have something to lose. Although I am by no means anywhere near my finish line, I do miss the beginning phases. Enjoy those moments because that is where history is made.
Do you have any favorite business-related or personal development related books that you can recommend?
I don’t want to sound bias, but I have a book coming out end of this year – Settle For Success. I think many people will enjoy it. As far as authors go, I like Jocko Willink and Gary Vaynerchuk. They both have several inspiring books published and I have bookmarked pages that I constantly turn back to for reference.
What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?
Entrepreneurship is a risky business. Working in Corporate America and on Wall Street, I’ve seen major companies lose millions of dollars. Fortunately, I was able to utilize my time on Wall Street to avoid many of those mistakes. To succeed on your own, you have to undoubtedly take risks, but those risks can and should be calculated. Start small and scale as you have some experience with success. This will keep your business and any losses manageable.
What have you learned in the process of becoming wealthy that others can learn from?
Being wealthy was never my goal. Like I said, pursuing my passion was and still is. I always wanted to provide for my family. The financial status sort of came once the market started positively accepting my work. That is a great feeling. But being wealthy is organic. It’s open-ended and you have to struggle with the reality that not everyone will like you. My advice to others is to stay humble and realize there’s always something to learn, regardless of the origin nor how big you get.
What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?
My background lies within the expertise in security and risk management. In this space, relationship building is the best marketing solution. It takes a lot of sweat equity to develop and foster relationships between individuals. However, those relationships will last a long time. In business, I don’t look for ‘one and done’ clients. Developing a trustworthy relationship ensues years of collaboration.
How did your brand stand out from the rest of the other brands out there that is similar to your niche?
Right now, Settle4Success is free and it offers opportunities to connect directly with myself and other business collaborators for one on one advice and mentorship.
What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?
The global COVID-19 pandemic has been tough on everyone and I think many people had to make hard decisions. For me, the hardest decision was to double down on my Settle4Success mentorship and launch throughout this period of uncertainty. S4S requires time and financial resources to launch. I decided to continue moving forward and speed up the launch date because I know there are so many people out there contemplating their careers during COVID and need to consume my information to help them make the changes necessary to succeed.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
The best advice I was given was to always try. Win or lose, you will never have any regrets for trying.
What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?
When you die, there are two numbers on your tombstone. The year you were born – the year you died. Pace yourself! It is a long, stressful, rewarding road. Enjoy the dash!