I went to prison

I spent an entire day in a maximum security prison and it was one of the most profound experiences of my life. Myself and 50 other entrepreneurs from the Mastermind Talks community participated in a program called Hustle 2.0 led by an incredible human named Catherine Hoke.
Our day at Kern Valley prison started with these words “we do not fire warning shots… if you hear gunshots, get against a wall immediately”. Shit got real, real quick.
I’m fortunate to say that I’ve never spent a day or night in jail and that’s part of the reason why I was so inspired to be a part of this very unique experience. I will openly admit that there are things I’ve done in the past that had I been caught I very well may have spent more than a few nights behind bars myself. I’m sure some of you reading this might also share this possibility.
Growing up in Scarborough I could count on two hands friends who had killed or been killed before the age of 20. Needless to say, my life could have gone in a very different direction had I drifted to the other side of the tracks. What made this opportunity so interesting for me is, I wanted to meet these men and learn about their personal journeys and hear their perspectives on life after decades of reflection. The men we met with are called “Maverick’s” in the program. Many are serving life sentences, some are eligible for parole and many will never experience freedom ever again.
I spoke with several of them one to one. Hearing them share the circumstances of their childhood, the challenges and unfair odds while growing up and ultimately the criminal act that resulted in them being incarcerated, was a very eye opening experience. Despite the harsh reality of the crimes that these men committed, sitting across from them you would never imagine that the soft spoken, polite, vulnerable human in front of you is the same person that was sentenced years or decades ago.

We also spoke about what life will be like if and when they are released. They shared their business ideas with us and we engaged in mock job interviews, giving them coaching and constructive feedback. I truly felt connected to each one of the Maverick’s that I spoke with and can honestly say that a few of them could even be one of my homies had we met under different circumstances.
The highlight of the day for me was Step to the Line. This is an exercise that involves all the guests and Mavericks lining up face to face, standing a few feet apart with only rows of tape separating us. The way it worked was we each stand on the first row of tape in front of us and we answer a series of intimate questions by stepping forward to the second row if our answer to the question is yes. The questions got deep and some got pretty dark. A few examples are:

“Have you lost a parent to gun violence?”
“How old were you when you first got arrested? 18, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, 6…?”
“Have you lost a child?”
“Have you ever thought of killing yourself?”

The intention of these penetrating questions was to not only give some context to the reality of the Maverick’s lives before their incarceration, but to also show that there are serious issues that the men on each side of the line shared when they both stepped forward standing inches apart. By the end of the exercise, each and every one of us had a much deeper sense of compassion and empathy for the Mavericks and for one another.
Seeing who stepped to the line reinforced my belief that regardless how rich, successful and famous someone is, they may be suffering in ways that you can’t even imagine. It’s often those who’ve “made it” and reached the pinnacle of their success, that are the ones who are closest to losing it. They’re at the top of their mountain feeling that they have no one to talk to about what’s really going on so they numb their pain with whatever way they know how, which can often be self-destructive. Thankfully experiences like this provide the opportunity for those who need to open up the chance to share and receive the support they need. 

After we completed Step to the Line, it was time to battle the Maverick’s in a lip-sync dance off (which we sadly lost). The Maverick’s got some moves and showed us how to put it on. It was a true Cat Hoke dance party.

As our day was coming to the end, Cat requested that we take the time to fill out our “sweet sheets” and write down some positive, encouraging words for the Maverick’s we spoke with. She reminded us that in 15 minutes we will be on our bus traveling back to LA and the Maverick’s will be back in their cells and may not have another visitor for years. These sheets will hang on their cell walls and provide them with a bit of positivity and optimism. They also gave us our own sweet sheets and shared kind words of appreciation for our time together.
At dinner that night I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for my freedom and the great guidance I’ve had that has kept me on a positive path in life. I am so grateful to my parents for teaching my brother and I positive moral values at a young age. I couldn’t help but think how my life would be so different if I had made just one or two wrong choices during my teen years. I may have ended up on the other side of the tape.
My big take aways from this experience are to seek to understand others before passing judgement on them. Yes, some of these men committed crimes that are very wrong, however when you learn what led them to that moment you can understand how and why it happened. By no means does that justify the crime, but it does give us some insight on how these harmful actions can be intervened. My other take away is to keep believing that people can change with the right support and guidance and that everyone deserves a second chance. I will not forget these men and their stories. The lessons I left prison with will help me enjoy every moment of freedom I have.

If you’d like to learn more about Cat Hoke and Hustle 2.0 click here.
I was given the privilege to bring my camera in to Kern Valley prison. These are a few of the photos that I captured. If you would like to see more you can see them here.

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Letting go of holding back

I’m done with playing it safe. I’m letting go of holding back.

These two weeks have really taught me a lot and I’d like to share what I’ve learned with you. You too may be playing it safe and someone’s life could depend on it.

My third ALIVE Experience ended last week and I’ve taken some time to reflect on the impact it had on not just my guests but also myself. This trip was so powerful and transformative and it created exactly the results that I knew it could. There were several people dealing with some very serious situations; failed marriages, death in the family, improving their health and major career decisions. Each one of them chose to come to Costa Rica in hopes of finding the answers they were looking for. They each found much more than they had expected.

How this has impacted me is that I now realize that I’ve been inauthentic and fearful about my new business and I’ve discovered what I have been doing instead of who I should be being.

If this sounds confusing, please let me explain…

I’ve been marketing, selling, promoting my ALIVE trips instead of inspiring, educating and empowering people to make an educated choice based on what the trip is actually about.

I’ve been so focused on filling my trips that I’ve been “marketing” the ALIVE Experience to anyone and everyone and this is not what I should be doing.

I’ve been playing it safe and promoting ALIVE as if though it’s an all-inclusive, adventure vacation and the truth is it isn’t. I’ve held back from saying what it really is for the fear of turning anyone off of the concept.

In realizing the importance of the trip and the impact it has on people I’ve decided to speak my truth and not hold back and say what it is. I know that this won’t resonate with everyone but the truth is that this trip is NOT for everyone. Those who hear what it is and are drawn to it are the ones who are ready to join me.

The ALIVE Experience is not a vacation. It is 7 days and nights of learning and self-development. There will be tough conversations that will cause you to open up and deal with things that you’ve buried deep inside you. You will connect with strangers and fall in love with them and feel a level of connection and compassion that you didn’t know could happen in just one week. You will push the boundaries of your comfort zone and discover something truly life changing for yourself. You will do things you wouldn’t normally do and realize that life has endless possibilities.

Yes, you will also surf and hike and connect with the ocean and jungle. The adventurous actives will definitely make you feel ALIVE again, but the core offering and most valuable element of this trip are the workshops, conversations and connections that you experience during this trip and what you bring home with you.

I’m well aware that this concept is very niche and not everyone is interested in this type of travel experience. However, it’s important to me to authentically share what it is and what it isn’t, so one day when you’re ready to take on what you’re dealing with and willing to do the work required to live your best life possible, you now know that there is an awesome, impactful, unique opportunity called the ALIVE Experience that’s available to you.

I created this company and have sacrificed a lot to do so because I sincerely want to see people happy. It truly pains me to see people struggle and not know how to overcome their personal and professional challenges.

People are often surprised when I tell them that the ALIVE Experience is impact driven, not profit driven. I would honestly run these trips for free if I could, I truly enjoy them that much.

It is an incredibly fulfilling feeling knowing that I am truly living my purpose and doing something that is completely aligned with who I am and what I love and enjoy most in life. My trips change lives and could possibly save a few as well. I know this is a bold statement and this is how much I believe in what I’m creating because this is the impact it’s creating for my guests and the people in their lives.

I am so clear on who I am being and what I am committed to and would like to declare and share this with you.

I inspire through Vulnerability – I share my journey and the life lessons I’ve learnt along the way. I lead by example so others can see that anyone can create the life they truly want to live.

I educate with Generosity – I share my abundant resources of facilitators and coaches who lead powerful workshops and teach people through experiential learning opportunities.

I empower with Confidence – I provide the tools and structure to take action on what you want to create for your life. I’m building a beautiful community that will support one another and keep each other accountable to reach their goals.

I invite you to think about where you may be playing safe in life and what you are potentially risking by doing so. I believe we are all capable of making some big things happen when we can push past our fears and fully believe in what we are doing and allow ourselves to be who we truly are.

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The ALIVE Experience was a SUCCESS!

It’s an incredible feeling to develop an idea into a tangible action and have it come to fruition, then watch others experience it and see the impact it has on them. It truly is a magical feeling, and this is why we as entrepreneurs, do what we do despite all the crazy ups and downs of owning and running our businesses.
Over the past 20 years I’ve created multiple companies, each has been fulfilling and rewarding in their own way. They have served a purpose and provided me with many rewards and lessons learned. I am so grateful for each and everyone one of them. And, it’s time for the next chapter to begin…

Last week I hosted a group of new friends and old friends for the very first ALIVE Experience. It was an awesome week that I carefully curated to share with them the very best that Costa Rica has to offer. It was amazing to watch each person in this group have their own unique first time experience and see how lit up and alive they were. Some people conquered their fear of heights, some learned to slow down, relax and be present and all of them opened up, shared and connected with one another.

I had an intention and a desired result for this trip, what it produced and the impact it had on not just the group, but also myself, far superseded my expectations. To say it was a great success would be an understatement! It was awesome in so many ways and I truly believe and know that this is the impact that I want to have on people.

This photo was taken after we wrapped the the Passion workshop during the ALIVE Experience. You can almost feel the happiness and positive energy through the photo and smile

I will be hosting the next ALIVE Experience in Whistler BC, June 29th – July 6th. If you are interested in joining and would like more information visit www.thealiveexperience.com or email me at z@zarkfatah.com

Pura Vida!

The City Podcast Interview

It was great to sit on the other side of the table and share my story with Chad and Steve from The City Podcast.

Big thanks to Love Child for allowing us to use their awesome co-working / social event space and James from PRCPTN for capturing our conversation.

Watch the video here

For more info on The City Podcast check out @thecitypodcast and subscribe on iTunes

Over EZ for Everyone

Since launching our hangover prevention supplement Over EZ in December 2015, it’s been a challenging, humbling and rewarding experience. I am proud to say that the hard work that my partners, our team and I have put in is definitely starting to pay off!

I’m very excited to announce that Over EZ is now approved for sale in the UAE and can be purchased in Dubai. Check out the video for the Over EZ sponsored event in Dubai here

In the coming months we are taking our amazing, innovative product to several other markets around the world. In Miami we are growing quickly and have recently locked in several new retailers. In Canada, we have a new distribution deal that will put our product in thousands of stores across the country!

As we continue to grow our product around the world, we are always looking for great people to partner with. Please feel free to reach out if you would like to work together and join our crusade to fight hangovers and help everyone enjoy the night and own the day!

If you are interested in learning about Over EZ and / or where you can purchase our product visit www.over-ez.com.

The best of Art Basel

Without a doubt, Art Basel is the best time to visit Miami!

During this 5 day festival, Miami transforms into something pretty special. People from all over the world descend on the 305 to share and appreciate incredible art from up and coming and world renowned artists.

In this video I share some of the amazing art and the awesome events that I experienced.

For more information on Art Basel and the exhibits I attended visit:

www.artbasel.com/miami-beach
www.scope-art.com
www.artmiamifair.com
www.wynwoodmiami.com

A pARTy With Purpose // ARTBOUND

A World With Colour – Join The pARTy Thursday September 28th as we party for a purpose and raise funds for our upcoming ARTBOUND initiative in Haiti. This event promises to be an incredible night with awesome people, great performances and music by DJ Scratch Bastid along with many other incredible artists.

Early bird tickets are still available for $95 and will be increasing to $115 this Thursday, so buy then NOW! For more event information visit here

To see ARTBOUND in action and get a taste of what we do, check out the video I shot during our trip to Nicaragua last year. Watch it here.

If you have any questions about this event or want to know how you can get involved with ARTBOUND please email me at z@zarkfatah.com.

Thanks for your support!

 

Archangel Summit 2017

They say you should surround yourself with people smarter than you. I can say that I have taken this advice and have definitely reaped the rewards. Attending last years Archangel Summit was truly an incredible experience for me. Listening and learning from over a dozen awesome speakers like; Seth Godin, Robin Sharma, Jayson Gaignard, Gary Vaynerchuk and Archangel founder Giovanni Marsico was truly inspiring.

I was so impressed and moved by the event that I had to reach out to Giovanni and share my appreciation with him. Since then we have become friends and I have joined the Archangel community which has literally been life changing. Giovanni and I are even collaborating on an event taking place at Maison Mercer August 18th.

The Archangel Summit is taking place again this year on September 9th at the Sony Centre and once again has an incredible panel of speakers that includes; Simon Sinek, Danielle LaPorte, Naveen Jain, Mark Keilberger, Jim Kwik and many more.

I am very happy to support this amazing event and am able to offer a promo code for you to save 40% off your ticket price if you would like to attend. Use promo code “ZARCHANGEL” when purchasing on-line at www.archangelsummit.com.

Check out the video from the 2016 event