Behind the Seams | Jeffrey Azan, Founder of Select "N" Start

For the 1st time ever, The Haute Lifestyle will be featuring a gentleman in our exciting “Behind the Seams” Thursday feature. We chose him because he has a way with words and using those words to help shape and transform the lives of people. We are often told that “Language is the vehicle that drives success” and once you hear this individual speak you will surely be motivated to be successful in all aspects of your life. Today, the Haute Lifestyle goes “Behind the Seams” with Jeffrey Azan, Founder, and CEO of Select ‘N’ Start, a company that creates infinite spaces, physically, mentally, and virtually that allow individuals to maximize their potential through workshops, motivation, perspective shifts, and life skill development.

THP: For those people who might not know who you are… give us a brief introduction

Professionally, for the past 5 years, I’ve been a Personal Development Coach and Motivational Speaker. Outside of my professional background, I’m an avid fan and practitioner of the martial arts and an active member of Toastmasters International. All in all, I’m just putting in the work to level up in this game of life, enjoy the journey, and share what I've learned along the way.

THP: What did you always want to be when you “grew up”

When I was in second grade I provided a very simple answer to this question, “I want to be a teacher.” As it would turn out, before I was to become a teacher I would have to be a salesman, delivery man, security guard, gift wrapper, storeroom manager, consultant, business partner, entrepreneur and social worker. An 18-year lesson in the subject I’ve taken up as my specialty, maximizing your potential, and changing your life.

THP: Tell us about working at one of Jamaica’s top retail stores “Azans”

It wasn’t as glamorous as one would think. Being born into a family of retailers, it was critical to learn the business, learn the work that it took, and understand all the pieces that came together for success. As early as the age of 9 years old I worked every summer and Christmas in one or another division of the company. My first job was as a gift wrapper, wrapping Christmas gifts for tips. In years to come, I would serve as a sales clerk, a merchandiser, a warehouse worker, a delivery man, security, HR manager, and eventually, Floor Manager and one of the company Directors.

THP: Tell us about your company “Select ‘n’ Start” and how you got into public/motivational speaking?

After spending most of my life between school and working in retail one thing became clear, the retail industry wasn’t for me and so I began looking for other businesses opportunities and companies I could be a part of. This led me on quite the professional adventure working with a number of companies and brands including Organo Gold, Amway, Café Moments, A Moment of Jazz, Bragga Daps, Brand Profit, and It’s Pixel Perfect.  As I moved from company to company, no matter what my role was I always ended up doing the same thing. Listening to the personal problems of my team and teaching them different ways to help solve these problems. It soon became apparent to those who knew me that I had a natural talent and passion for doing just this. With a little guidance from mentors and business associates at the time, In September of 2013 Select ‘n’ Start was birthed as a medium to focus this passion and provide a channel for those on a similar mission. Since then I and the other speakers of Select ‘n’ Start have tailored a number of workshops and talks that empower our audience to “Change their GAME, and Change their LIVES.”

THP: What is one word of advice you always give at your talks?

The most consistent and probably the most important piece of advice I give in my talks is simply this, “Don’t stop leveling up!” No matter the challenge, no matter the success, you can overcome, you can set a higher standard, and you can go for more.

THP: How do you prepare for your talks?

I believe in being a prepared speaker, and not so much having prepared talks. So every day I’m practising, listening to other motivational speakers, topical speakers, interviews and such; reading from as many genres as I can from classics, to business, to pop culture, to personal development, to psychology and any other available to me; I challenge my own theories, messages, stories, trying to find a better way, a more relevant way, and better language, in order to affect my audience in a more positive and more meaningful way. Lastly, whenever I go to give a presentation, right before I speak I say two things to myself. The first a question “Why am I speaking?” and the second a request, “Let my mind be clear, let my heart be open, and let my words be true.”

THP: Do you think Jamaica is receptive to an alternative career path like yours?

Unfortunately I believe Jamaican businesses are slow to change a lot of the time and as a result, we find ourselves playing catch-up in many global industries. However, we do adapt eventually. Social Media Marketing was shunned by most businesses when it was brought to Jamaica a little over 7 years ago and yet today, every business is striving to have a social media presence. In time I expect the business of Personal Development to be accepted as well.

THP: How has your involvement in Martial Arts help to shape your thoughts in Life and Business?

Martial Art philosophy and teachings have been one of the major shapers in my life. Many people shun the martial arts because they “don’t want to fight” and yet every day we wake up and step into the world we fight for something. Learning how to fight for me is equal to learning how to be successful. Now when I say fight it has nothing to do with kicks and punches, it’s about mental readiness and toughness. The ability to control yourself, predict your environment, and direct your opponent that is truly fighting. A fight is a mental dance of strategy and being able to practice that dance daily through my Martial Arts training has not only made me better at business but in all aspects of my life.

THP: How do you balance work + life?

Time restrictions, if you never set boundaries, then the “important” things in life will always demand your attention. However when your rules are in place and you live according to them, then life respects and adheres to them. If you don’t drink during the week, make it known and adhere to it, eventually, your friends who drink during the week will stop inviting you. If you leave work and don’t answer work calls after 6pm, then those you work with won’t reach into your life past 6pm. It’s about the life you want, and paying the price accordingly, some people won’t like it, but they won’t like it because it negatively affects their agenda, not because it negatively affects yours.

THP: What are 3 things people don’t know about you?

1)    I was an avid partier in my teens and young adult years and there was a period in my life that every Thursday night I could be found at Bembe.
2)    At any family function, you can be sure to find “Uncle Jeffrey” taking care and playing with the kids as I much prefer the imagination and wonder of a child, to the seriousness that most adults bring to situations.
3)    My favorite childhood character was “Tigger” from “Winnie the Pooh”. So much so I used to spell my name in a similar fashion as Tigger. He spelled his name “T-I- Double Ge- Er”, and I would spell my name, “J-E- Double Feh- Rie”.

THP: On a chill day you can find me …?

Chill day for me is equal to movies, a drink or two, maybe some video games, or music. Just being still and enjoying a good story in one form or another. However, from time to time a road trip with friends is necessary.

Keep up with Jeffrey



Photo Credit
Photo #1: Aldane Barret

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