Episode 3 is liiiiive! You might recognize Akvile’s name because our episode 1 guest, Pamela Lund, recommended her as someone to chat PermissionLESS with, and I’m so glad I did! Akvile has worked and played in so many industries, and how she’s managed to seamlessly tie everything into her life to turn into the business owner today is pretty fantastic. No spoilers (though if you listen through the episode you’ll know that I’m pretty good at spoiling basically every show) so enjoy the listen!
Akvile Harlow Interview Transcription
Hello, and welcome to the PermissionLESS podcast. I’m back after kind of a short hiatus. If you’re signed up to the newsletter, I kind of explained a little bit about that but I’m super excited to be back. I have Episode Three for you from Season One. If you want to catch up on any of the old episodes, you can go to permissionless.com/podcast or you can finally subscribe to us on iTunes and you’ll have access to the old episodes and you’ll also be notified when anything new gets pushed through. So, without further ado, here is Episode Three.
Selena: Hi, and welcome to the PermissionLESS podcast. I’m your host, Selena Vidya and today, we have a fantastic guest. She is a dear friend of mine and I’m so excited for you to hear about her journey and passion and life. So her name is Akvile Harlow, did I say that right, Harlow?
Akvile: You did.
Selena: Okay, and she is a Digital Marketing Consultant by day and a bucket lister by night and she goes on the most amazing trips and does a lot of interesting things so, let’s rock and roll. How are you?
Akvile: Doing well, thanks. How are you?
Selena: I’m good. Sorry, it was kind of hot and sticky in here I turned off the a/c. Okay, so you had a really interesting journey. When I first met you, I didn’t know half of the things that I know now about you and I think that’s really endearing because you’ve done a lot of things that are left field, right field and they’re all things you’ve loved. So, do you want to walk us through what started your first passion area?
Akvile: Oh goodness. So I’ve really been into Art and Music, my biological dad, he was an artist and my mother was a professional pianist so I kind of fall into that area and plus my mother made me learn piano since my grandmother’s a professional pianist so is my aunt and my cousin.
Selena: I had to learn piano too. I think that’s just something parents make you do like, “Here, learn this instrument.”
Akvile: So, I did that for a few years and I realized that my mother being my teacher, probably wasn’t the relationship we wanted to have so, instead of student-teacher, we’re like, “Let’s do mother and daughter.” So then I started Middle School and joined Band and wanted to play clarinet and saxophone originally but I had really bad buckteeth and I had to get braces so it’s a whole story in itself but I wasn’t allowed to play any reed instruments so I got stuck playing the flute.
Selena: Oh really?
Akvile: It was great. For three years, it wasn’t the instrument that I was passionate about, I wouldn’t say, so once I finished Middle School and moved on to High School, I was like, “Alright, you know what, Mom, here’s why I don’t want to do this and why I’m going to do something else.” At that point I was a little bit older so I was getting exposed to more concerts, going to shows and I realized that I wanted to be a DJ so, I picked up some turntables from eBay for like super cheap, some broken..and I kind of started the whole DJ thing and music and finding my passions through that area.
Selena: I love that. I love that you did that because the only deejaying that I’ve done, though I’m interested in it, is DJ Hero which is like the lowest of lowest of lowest like it’s not even real life but it’s fun.
Akvile: I think it could be just as challenging because I’ve played Guitar Hero and I was terrible at it. I couldn’t…like I was all over the place.
Selena: I get really OCD with things like that. Do you ever feel like you just have to get right so you do it over and over and over or maybe that’s just me? So when you’re a deejay and you were playing shows and you actually gave it a good run, right?
Akvile: So I was doing it for about ten years, on and off, sort of through High School, College, and then a little bit into my post-Collegiate years so I did weddings, primarily when I was in High School since I made some friends that own a company and they were like, “Oh, come and do weddings”. While it was fun and it paid well, especially at that point in my life, I really didn’t want to do weddings. I was like 15, 16 at the time and I’d have people that were having too much fun and had too much to drink yelling at me to play certain songs that we didn’t have or the bride and groom requested on their “Do Not Play” list. So, after High School, I was like, “Yeah, no more of that. That’s enough” so I prefer doing music that I wanted to play and kind of have control over it and started playing clubs and parties and raves.
Selena: I haven’t heard the word “rave” in so long. I think you just aged us but no, I remember I went to my first rave in like some random underground warehouse in Boston. I don’t even know what I was doing, it was so strange but it was like the UFO pants and the glow sticks and all of that. It was just…
Akvile: I get so excited when people know what UFO pants are.
Selena: I used to love UFO pants! I had like three pairs, I had silver, tan and then I think I had another silver one with a different strip ’cause they had the different college. So did you have any?
Akvile: I had a pair of baby blue ones and these like silver little strip things on the pockets. Did you ever trans into a backpack?
Selena: No. I knew you could but I never did.
Akvile: I tried once but I didn’t actually wear it out.
Selena: Sort of like, “Here, hold your stuff. Oops, everything fell out.” So what was your deejay name? I don’t think I know this.
Akvile: Hm, people were like, “Oh just use your real name” but it gets mangled all the time. It’s like I know people see my name on a file are like, “What’s Akvile or Ak-vile” or whatever else. So, I have to spell my name out a lot phonetically and I put little hyphens in between it when I’m spelling it out phonetically for people and I was like, “How about just hyphen?” So, that’s what I went with and that’s what I’ve kept. But you know i don’t like claiming I’m just a bedroom deejay again.
Selena: Nice! So do you feel like deejaying helps you acquire a lot of skills that you use now like having to be around people and things of that nature?
Akvile: Oh, absolutely. I was a huge wallflower all throughout High School and I got sick of it by the time I was 18 so this was kind of me trying to step out of that shell. I think the biggest thing I learned was to kind of gain confidence and that was one of the questions that I thought that you were going to ask me later when there’s time to talk about that but that was something I lacked a lot of in my life so far so I think that was a huge step forward where I can kind of get a little more comfortable being in front of people.
Selena: Yeah, and that’s one hell of a way to push yourself in and you get comfortable.
Akvile: I won’t lie, usually, I played hour sets so in fact, the first 45 minutes of the hour, I would be so nervous and I kind of wouldn’t be present and the last 15 minutes I’d jam out and like, “Oh, it’s over.” Nice, guys.
Selena: I know. If only you could just switch like the beginning to the..or the end to the beginning, the beginning to the end and just flow with it. Okay, so you were deejaying for about ten years and then you decided to transition into something else?
Akvile: Well, life happened, I got busier. First after College and then moving, first work and it just like happened and I didn’t get to do it as much, I still have a bunch of records and a turntable but I’d love to do it again but I think it’s a part of a chapter in my life that I’m done doing publicly.
Selena: Yeah, sometimes it’s good to leave memories as memories and not bring them back up.
Akvile: So for new things, I try to paint when I have time but primarily for last year and a half I’ve been focusing on my business so it’s kind of my new passion and project so.
Selena: Nice. We’re going to get to that part because I know that’s your current and that’s what you love doing right now. I think you had mentioned something about doing autocross?
Akvile: That’s correct.
Selena: Are you open to talking about that?
Akvile: Oh, absolutely!
Selena: I’m really curious about that. I think that’s great.
Akvile: So I did it about four years. I was into cars for as long as I can remember and then when I was in High School, I was working at this bubble tea cafe and it turned out to be like…so the bubble tea cafe, we were in a strip mall and there’s a huge parking lot and other businesses that were there weren’t really heavily visited so we had a car form at my University where I actually made some friends with people at it before, a year before I started going there. So with the bubble tea cafe, everybody knew me as the bubble tea girl and they would just have car meets there because they’re like, “Can we use your parking lot?” So I talked to my manager and he was like, “Oh absolutely” and he loved cars too so we ended up having an online car forum go several years and then an Autocross Association kind of teamed up with us. We just had car meets every single night like if you didn’t have anything to do, you can probably pop by the parking lot and hang out with a bunch of car people and then cruise a loop from a group of Buffalo, New York. All the highways kind of made a loop and we had ended up calling the loop but I think the cops later caught on to us.
Selena: They’re like, “So, approximately Friday at 9pm, you know that everybody’s going do this loop, go.”
Akvile: Yeah, pretty much so we had to be careful about it and just be safe. So to kind of make it more legal, we eventually was joined by an Autocross club that was there so it was a WSCCA which is the national organization that does autocross so once a month, it would be different locations on Western New York where we would go and sign up and we could join the club and then we would get to race with cars that are in the same group based on like the engine size or mods and other go-kart, there was a go-kart portion or like a luxury car portion and all sorts of cars. So it was really fun, we went to do it on Sundays and made some friends through that. It was a really good hobby throughout College but it was an expensive one since car parts are expensive and when you’re into it, you’re like, “Ooh…” So I was going to get a credit card when I first got in College and I was like okay, I wrote a list of all the car parts that I wanted on my car. I was like, “Oh, you know, I can pay this off” ’cause the recruiter of the credit card person at the University was like, “Oh yeah, you can sign up and pay it off” and I didn’t..I was one of the people.
Selena: They make it sound so easy.
Akvile: So I was about to do it and find the car parts and I had a few friends that were older and wiser and they were like, “Do not do that” and I’m really grateful today that I didn’t do that since there’d probably be like a whole grand of debt due to car parts.
Selena: Oh my God. I went through, and it’s so easy to do that too because I went through that. So, upstate New York, we had the same exact thing except we did it at Dunkin’ Donuts. So we would take over a Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot and then it was like every Thursday night or something, all the car people would come with their cars and I had this black Eclipse that was just oh. It was awesome at the time until it tried to kill me every time I drove it. I had the wheels fall off, probably…actually not my fault, it came out of a repair shop and they didn’t take the lug nuts but yeah, we used to dump so much money into our cars so it’s smart that you didn’t do ’cause everything would just break anyway.
Akvile: Right. Did you have a turbo?
Selena: I had one that I was going to install and then I didn’t realize that they’re not just bolt in because I was like, “I’m just going to pick up this turbo” and then I got it from a GSX and I was like, “Oh, this will bolt into my GS” and then I had tried and I was like, “This doesn’t look like it’s going to work.” They were like, “Yeah you need to, you know, do all of this extra stuff for like $1000.” I’m like, “How about no” ’cause it will probably blow up.
Akvile: Probably need a credit card for that.
Selena: I know, right.
Akvile: That’s awesome.
Selena: Okay, so after that, what was your next foray into a passion?
Akvile: Oh man. You know, take it down a little bit. I’ve also done something but by the time I hit 25, I’d kind of had a lot of life realizations and I think that’s when…can I say a swear word? I was going to say, “Shit just got real.”
Selena: Oh, yeah, please, sorry. I’m surprised I haven’t swear any. Go for it.
Akvile: Yes, I got the first in!
Selena: You win!
Akvile: So I wanted to travel a lot more when I was in my 20s and do a lot more things but after school, I had to start paying school loans back so I tried to be a lot more financially responsible and start work and try to pay that stuff off so I didn’t get to do as much as I wanted to and I was in a relationship with someone and when I was 25, I think, it started getting like, “Where is this going?” and I think that our paths started separating so we tried it for two more years after that to kind of fix things so when I was 27, I ended up getting divorced and that’s kind of where this whole trying to find myself and what my next passion was going be and what I want to do for, essentially, like a second try at life and what I want to do and who I want to become and kind of, I don’t know, build it up. So, passion after that was obviously my new job and bucket listing.
Selena: Yes. I was actually going to talk about that because you just put up a post I think, a day or two ago with toastmasters, like questions and answers to kind of ask yourself. I think that’s really cool and so you had also recently, go on vacations and you kind of bucket list those as well, right?
Akvile: Yes. I, unfortunately, don’t blog as much as I’d like to so blogging is not my forte I want to be good at it, I know it takes practice but I feel like there’s always other things that I’d rather do first and I’m still bucket listing but I just need to catch up on the blog. So I do try to do a lot more now and and build to a like work hard budget but also make time for play and just do things that I’m like, “Why am I working?” like I want to live too and enjoy things so that’s kind of the route I’ve been taking the last few years and yeah.
Selena: Yeah, I’ve been living vicariously through your photographs like your Instagram and stuff. I’m like, “Oh, Akvile is here, this is so cool” and then I get to see all these places that you’ve seen through your photos so keep doing it so I can stalk.
Akvile: Thank you! Well, you should do it too.
Selena: I know. I want to. I want to do weekend trips and try to make that like a thing and just go down a bucket list.
Akvile: What would be one thing that was on it?
Selena: Hmm, I don’t know yet. Oh, I mean this isn’t like a crazy cool one but Santa Barbara. I really want to go and take a weekend there.
Akvile: Have you been before?
Akvile: I haven’t either. I always drive by and I’m like, “One of these days, we’ll stop.”
Selena: I’ve heard that it’s kind of like a little Italy, Mediterranean feel to it. So I really wanted to go like the way the cliffs fall to the water and the way the buildings are set up, it’s just very like Mediterranean.
Akvile: Well, you should go and I’ll live vicariously through you and then you’ll give me some pointers and then I’ll go.
Selena: There we go. I’m gonna be like, “Hey, you have to go here.” So you mentioned school. What did you go to school for?
Akvile: Oh man. So I wanted to be a Graphic Designer and my parents kind of convinced me otherwise that I should go to College for something that will…very high demand for the rest of my life. Of course, my dad’s a doctor and he’s like, “Oh you should be a doctor” and I was the type of child that didn’t want to disappoint my parents so I was like, “Okay.” I’m very adaptable so I kind of talked myself into it and I did it and I realized like, “You know what, I’m paying for College and this is going to be an expensive route and I’m already passionate about it” so, unfortunately, I wasn’t brave enough to tell my dad that I don’t want to do it until I was graduating with my doctorate’s degree.
Selena: Oh really? Wow!
Akvile: So, while it was a super interesting experience, I was going to do some sort of medical degree and then I was thinking like, “Oh, I’ll do Pharmacy” but then, while I was good at Science, I didn’t want to sit in a lab or at a pharmacy. That really wasn’t my thing. I like being around people and trying to do my creatives and I guess my upbringing so then I was like, “Well, how do I be around people but still kind of be in the medical field and make my parents proud?” so I switched into Physical Therapy and I loved that a lot more and I took some regular classes and I will admit, Cadaver Lab, probably sounds super creepy but it was more educational.
Selena: Oh I forgot about that! You’ve told me this before. The Cadaver Lab, yeah.
Akvile: It’s more of like the…
Selena: Kinds of dead bodies.
Akvile: Yeah, pretty much. I’m so crazy.
Selena: It’s so cool, though.
Akvile: So after I graduated, I told my parents and of course, they weren’t happy to hear that but I was like, “Here’s my plan and what I want to do”. I wanted to go into Marketing since I can be creative and also work with people and help people which is something that I’ve also liked doing throughout my life just kind of be around people and helping them. So, I tried to get a few jobs and it was hard because I had a Science background and everybody’s like, “Why do you want to be a marketer?” and I was competing with other people that just finished their Marketing degrees or Business degrees so I ended up doing two internships and went to start my MBA and did it for one year and realized, “Oh man, this is expensive” ’cause I was doing it at an out of state, private University so that automatically jacks up the tuition costs.
Selena: Yeah, ’cause you can’t get residency at all.
Akvile: So I did it one year and I realized like, “Oh man, this is great but I don’t want to be a CEO of some corporation” while super interesting, I have to pay out of pocket and it’s not something I wanted to do and there was only one Marketing class in three years for the program and the rest were like Accounting and I don’t know, Finances? I was like, “Yeah, that’s going to be torture” so…
Selena: Yeah, anything with numbers will.
Akvile: So that’s the, I don’t know, the educational route that I took.
Selena: Nice. It’s interesting because I don’t think I’ve talked to one person who just went straight through school and was happy with it where they were like, “I want to be..” Well, except for doctors who actually go through and they know from birth, where like, “I want to be a doctor.” I feel like they’re a special breed of people.
Akvile: Oh, absolutely.
Selena: But most people…like for me, I went through so many different degrees, I was going to go into Engineering because my dad was an engineer. I was going to Electrical Engineering because that’s what he did and I figured, “Oh, my dad did it” so you know, and then I started taking the basic Math classes I had. I think, Trigonometry and all these stuff and I was like, “I don’t want to sit like…if this is just to get into like a pre-req, I don’t want to do it.” So I find it interesting that you had switched a lot ’cause I think that’s how we find out what we really want to do especially when we experience…like for the MBA, just have another Math classes and sets the reality of like, “This is going to be my life.”
Akvile: Yeah. That’s amazing how our dads can influence us so much.
Selena: I know, right and I almost did the designer route too. I was like, “I want to be a Graphic Designer.” I actually, just when I met Shane, I was in that phase where I was trying to figure that out. My dad’s like, “You’re not going to make money. You need to get a real degree.” I’m like, “I’m so offended right now.”
Akvile: Oh, I get that especially, you want to make your parents proud, right? But that’s not what I want to do but…as long as they’re supportive and I’m sure at they are at this point like your super successful so…
Selena: Yeah, I just kind of like, did my own thing. Well, once you start doing things that they can be, I guess, proud of and they’re unsure about what you’re doing, then they love it. It’s just the uncertainty where they feel like they have to help you and guide you and you know, all that stuff. So, you had Marketing internships and you got into Marketing. So before you got to where you are now with your own thing, were you working for a company, like what were you doing in between, when you just started to now?
Akvile: I guess my official working job was when I was still doing physical therapy and they needed some marketing help and I was like, “Hey, I already work here now, I was doing this physical therapy thing, I’d be happy to do some other stuff.” So, that’s kind of where it started getting, kind of dabbled in marketing and then my first official internship was at a Pet Insurance company up in Seattle called Trupanion and they were, I think they had like 12 people when I first started. So, I was their SEO Marketing Link Building intern for about three months and then I wanted to stay there and then my manager at the time was like, “Hey, I’d like to go look at our AdWords account and let me know what you think on Monday and we’ll talk and see” and so I went. Oh, I’m sorry I totally skipped ahead, there was a job before that. The first internship was at Evo, it was a snowboard, ski and an outdoor pro company from Seattle.
Selena: That’s exciting.
Akvile: So, I was an e-commerce intern at first, and then I went to Trupanion and then they gave me their AdWords account, I was like, “Oh man, I don’t know what to do” so I had like two days over the weekend to cram everything I know and learn about AdWords and cleared accounts and see what they’ve done and didn’t work. So I went back and called my friends at Evo and I was like, “Hey, can you give me a quick rundown of AdWords.” I have no idea where to start. So Monday I came in and kind of presented what I had learned and they gave me a job so it was their fifth year and that was my first official PPC gig.
Selena: That’s awesome and it’s interesting how relationships tie into it so you know when you were trying to learn here, you could go back to somebody that you had worked with in the past and be like, “Hey, I need a little help, can you help me” and I think that’s so important that a lot of people don’t…they kind of burned through them but if you want to kind of move from industry to industry or job to job, that you need to keep good relationships with people.
Selena: So, I just derailed us. So, okay Trupanion. You were there, you were just starting to learn AdWords. How long were you there for?
Akvile: I think I was there for almost three years.
Selena: Oh wow.
Akvile: Yeah, and then I was like we’re moving to California so that’s like, they needed somebody in-house, and to stay, you know I was not in the position to stay with them, so unfortunately, I couldn’t stay with them. So then I went to Third Door Media which hosts the SMX conferences and I was there for about four years.
Selena: Nice and what did you do there? Were you doing community or social or just a mix of everything?
Akvile: A lot of things. So we were a Marketing Department of two, so my boss and I, she did all of the content, email and other marketing things and I pretty much took over all the paid search and paid social and organic social so, a lot of people just knew me as the social media, Facebook girl, some people would call me since that was when I got to show what I did mostly for work but behind the scenes, it was actually more like 80% of our job was PPC so I would do all the Facebook ads, Google..
Selena: I wish I could just call “Google”, “Googer” all day. I can’t even talk now. Okay, so Google ads.
Akvile: Yes. Oh and LinkedIn, anywhere there was Inline advertising that was all inter-audience are pretty much would be tested it out or just long-term. It was fun. I met a lot of very cool people and that was probably the biggest place that I had made a lot of relationships whether they were friends or business colleagues and later clients so, it’s a good experience. Going back to the thing where you’re saying about always keep in touch with people.
Selena: Yeah, for sure. So, with the conference circuit, I’m sure a lot of the newer relationships that you built were just from being around there and getting out there and talking to people and finding people that you want to meet. Did you find a lot of, this word is kind of, I like and hate this word, but mentors? Did you find a lot of people who you can talk with about the industry, who were open to kind of sharing their experiences and stuff like that?
Akvile: Oh, absolutely but I was actually surprised by how giving, helpful and kind people are in our industry so that was like the first taste I had of it going to bigger shows like that. Meeting all the people and then seeing repeat people come back to other shows and look at all the familiar faces and there were definitely some mentors, one that we know, Pam.
Selena: She’s actually going to be on the podcast.
Selena: Yeah, so everybody else is going to get to hear her story too. She’s amazing.
Akvile: Awesome. I can’t wait to hear it. She’s fantastic. At that point, I had mentors who were just people that I looked up to and Marty Weintraub was actually one of like the first people that I really connected with that helped me. He’d just reach out to me all the time and was like, “Hey, have you tried this, have you tried that?” and he’s incredibly helpful. So I would say that he was probably my first mentor in the industry and especially when it comes to Facebook ads, he just…
Selena: Oh yeah, he does some crazy stuff on Facebook, just testing and experimenting.
Akvile: So, and then over the years, I made a bunch of relationships where I didn’t know that they would end up being mentors but after a while I really went on my own to work for myself, a lot of people kind of just popped up and I thought that I’d kind of be forgotten about since I wasn’t in the conference circuit and then have to focus on my business and not be able to travel as much and not being there all the time but it was actually the opposite. In fact, they’re actually very nice and if you go and someone will reach out and soon as I’m like, “Hey, I’m starting to work for myself” and they’re like, “Hey if you need any advice or if you have any questions, please feel free to hit me up” and I’ve always been hesitant about asking for help but there was no shame and I’ve learned and everybody gets a little help sometimes and if you can’t find the answer, Google. It’s good to have an interaction with people, that’s how Pam ended up being one of my mentors after I went on my own. She’s been doing this for a long time and I hope to be like her someday, in terms of how knowledgeable she is and she does great work for her clients.
Selena: She does and I wanted to touch back on the asking for help thing ’cause I’ve talked with people about this a lot and I feel like we’re so afraid to ask for help because we feel like it shows a weakness or something like that, but you know, when I went on my own too, I had asked for help, I had said, “Hey, if you have anybody that you need to help you with work, just shoot them over to me or I need work or do you have anything that I can do and it’s just amazing that people will help you. It’s not highly competitive. I mean, it is, but it’s not at the same time because there are so many clients to go around, there are so many disciplines and things like that so yeah, the major take away from this part I think is asking for help part. I love that.
Akvile: I used to wonder though are other industries as giving?
Selena: I don’t know. I feel like they’re not. Actually, have you heard of The Stiletto Network book?
Akvile: I haven’t. What’s that about?
Selena: So The Stiletto Network is a book, I think it’s a couple of years old now and it basically talks about these networks of women and they get together from different industries and the whole point is they talk about what’s going on in their industries, in the world and there’s kind of an ask and a give. So, if I know that, you know, you’re working with an investor and I’m starting a business and I’m going to need an investment, I can say, “Hey, do you mind introducing me to that person?” and it’s kind of code that that person will be like, “Yeah, okay” ’cause there’s a very small trusting bond between them and with that network, it’s just kind of like, it’s the whole asking for help. It’s very simple, asking for help and they do it. From what I was hearing with their industry is it wasn’t that way and they had to form this group because they couldn’t find things within their industries where people wanted to help them so they kind of like cross industry with people for investor relationships, business relationships and it was so much easier.
Akvile: That’s right. All of the little pride thing and then competition comes into place so it’s nice that we don’t have to deal with that as much in our industry.
Selena: I know. Our industry’s fun. So, what was the defining moment? So now you’re working for yourself. What was the defining moment where you just felt like you had to, you had that itch that you knew that you needed to? Or was it a gradual thing, maybe it wasn’t a specific moment.
Akvile: I feel like I knew what the end goal was but it was a gradual thing so fortunately, I had kind of hit rock bottom after my divorce and realized, “Okay”, like, our life felt like a tornado went through it and I knew where all the pieces had scattered but I just had to go find them and put them back together but try to build them stronger and better so it was a gradual process, obviously, I can find myself and figure out what I wanted to do and just yeah, like I feel like I knew that I wanted to work for myself ’cause this was a recurring theme over the years and everybody was really supportive and was trying to push me towards it for the last two or three years but I think I had to personally get to that point myself to where I was like, “Okay, I don’t want the norm that I had before.” I wasn’t happy with it and contentment was the ultimate goal through my life. I don’t know, it just took some time to kind of get there but it was definitely tough but I figured it out and put all the pieces back together and I can say now that things are good and I think I’ve found that spot. Obviously, there’s still plenty more room to improve.
Selena: Was it scary? So there’s certain times you’re so excited to take the leap that the fear is kind of not there but then there’s other situations where you are excited but it’s just like the fear is blinding and there’s like this chasm, I think that’s the word. Chasm, that feel like you have to cross to get to that point. How did you, did you experience the fear and how did you break yourself of it?
Akvile: I think it was just, I didn’t feel the fear at first, I think it was just an emotional, mental adrenalin, I guess, I can kind of describe it as that. I knew that, “Okay, I have to do all these different things” and I was just go, go, go and doing and I think that when the dust settled, I was like, “Oh my goodness, what happened?” I remember the first month of working for myself permanently, leading up to it, I was super pumped, I was like, “Alright, here we go. We’re going to launch a website, have a date I’m going to do it. This is going to be so exciting” and I was like horrified but and then I gave my notice and then the first week, I was like, “Alright, okay, it’s just me. I don’t have to like..” I felt so lost that I don’t have to report to someone or I didn’t have anybody or call anybody at a specific time and it took awhile for me to learn that but then week two, I was like, “Oh my goodness. What did I do? Do I know what I’m doing? I don’t know what I’m doing.” So, that’s the only fear I had, it’s like I’m responsible for my life and my finances and living a life that I’m pursuing so the reality of it set in but as weeks went on, everybody was like, “Go find your groove, just give it some time, it might take a few months but just keep going at it and I think over time…” like I knew it was going to happen but it was just, you’ll find in time, there’s nothing you can do.
Selena: Yeah and I feel like the first month is such a whirlwind like, it is the biggest, emotional roller coaster that you can go through when you’re finally like, “I’m working for myself” because you have like the excitement stage and then you have like the fear and denial stage where you’re like, “Oh shit! I have to actually make money, how am I going to do this? Is this going to work or are people, you know, going to stick to the word with like, how is this going to work?” and then you get to the groove part which is like, “Yeah, I got this, I got this” and that at the end of the month you’re like, “I did it” and you’re back at that, the top of the plateau. Its definitely a journey.
Akvile: So how long did it take you to get to find your groove?
Selena: Honestly, I still feel…I’m two years into it, I think almost two years into it and I still feel like there are days where I’m lost where I’m just like, “I don’t even know up from down, left from right” and then there’s you know periods of time, it’s longer now, so I’ll go awhile feeling like I’m in the groove, but I still have those moments where it drops out and I’m like, “Oh, what am I doing? What’s next?” I would say to get to kind of the even kill state, it was maybe like, four or five months because I started the middle of Summer and Winter time was very slow. So just when I got in the groove, clients slow down for the Winter because for SEO related stuff, you start their campaigns way early, whereas with paid, you have to be like on there for the holidays right there and so for me, everything had just slowed down and I was just monitoring stuff and then the fear had set in, again. So yeah, that was a really long-winded answer to a question but the fear is still there for me. I just operate that way.
Akvile: I think it’s healthy too to have the…kind of gives you a little reality check that there are ups and downs and when you have a down, you’re like, “Alright, how do I get back up there?”
Selena: Yeah, and I feel like you get a little more creative each time, you know, you try different things and you break away from your usual routine.
Akvile: Awesome. Well, keep doing that. It’s an accomplishment.
Selena: I know, I think about that all the time because, with consulting stuff, it’s such a whirlwind and the way that projects are tiered out, there’s just a huge chunk of time dedicated to a project and then all that time passes and suddenly, you’re a couple months into the year and it’s just…it’s a whirlwind. That actually brings me to something I’m really curious about. What is a day like for you right now?
Akvile: Good question. So, well I’ve been working for myself for almost a year and a half now. I have figured out at what points in the day my brain works best for certain tasks and what things need to accompany it to make it better. So for instance, I’ve kind of learned to format my day where, not that I’m able to kind of structure things and when I have calls and what projects I kind of take on, so in the morning, my analytical part of my mind is way sharper than it is in the afternoon. So, I usually try to start work by like 7:30 or 8:00, at the latest. I try to just have that format of like..I try to do on a normal work day but obviously as you know, working for yourself, sometimes, you work on weekends, nights and super early in the morning. So I try to start work at 8:00 and then I’ll do a new recording or any heavy analysis in the mornings and then the afternoons are usually better for creative stuff so like I’ll have coffee and just content. So if I can, I try to split it up that way, obviously, it doesn’t always happen, I’ll have to like intertwine some recording in the afternoon or like ad-hoc stuff. Usually at like 2:00 in the afternoon, my brain just shuts off, unfortunately, ’cause I don’t take a break until 2:00 so lately, I’ve been trying to go to the gym and just started to go for a little walk outside even if I can only do ten minutes. So, then by the time I get back, I’m ready to do work again. Have dinner and then maybe some work but I try to relax, if I can.
Selena: Do you feel like kind of keeping up with fitness or just some kind of activity helps you, it’s important to your routine or is this a new thing that you are trying or have you been doing it for a long time?
Akvile: On and off for a long time, literally. I wish I could do it more, it’s just some days I’m able to and I’ll get into the zone like, “Alright, everyday I’ll go” and it’s like a 2:00 thing but for the last few weeks, as things have gotten busier, I try to stack in more work during the day and I’m like, “Ah, I’ll go later” and then it’s later and I’m not really in the mood to go so I try to put on workout clothes earlier in the day so then it kind of entices me to go out the door later and sort of like I have workout clothes on and head out. So, I try to make it a routine but it’s been on and off my whole life.
Selena: Yeah. No, I totally get that because 2:00 or 3:00 was the sweet spot when I was trying to do it too because nobody’s at the gym. Everybody’s still at work. Yes, so you can get in and get out and do whatever you want to do but you know, depending on my work, sometimes I’ll go later and if I go at 8:00 or 9:00 at night, I’m wired, like I can’t sleep so I’m just awake until like 12:00 or 1:00 and then I can’t get up early so it’s just this weird cycle but yeah, I think people think it’s easier when you work for yourself because you can control your time but at the same time, sometimes, time controls you especially if you’re in a client-facing business because you have certain responsibilities to them when they’re in there working window of time so it gets kind of, it’s difficult sometimes.
Akvile: Everybody always says, I’m sure you get it a lot, “Oh, you work from home, you can do whatever you want.” It’s like, “I still go to work, it’s just that I don’t have a commute, like, my commute is from my bedroom to my office.”
Selena: Yeah. I don’t wear pants, sometimes. Like do you actually dress up ’cause I don’t.
Akvile: I change out of my like whatever I’m sleeping in and put something else on so I’m like, “Okay, I’ve done something and I’m ready for the workday.”
Selena: See, sometimes I don’t even do that. I roll out in my pajamas and I just work for a couple of hours. Yeah, it’s tough. I don’t know, I’ve mastered it. So I think that’s good.
Akvile: Hey, if it works for you.
Selena: Working from my PJs. So, alright we talked about what your day is like. If you get stuck, you’re working on something, you’re just stressed out, you need some kind of relief, do you have a particular activity or ritual or thing that you like to do to shake your brain and switch modes? That was like a weird hand movement. You guys can’t see this but it was awkward. I think I heard it click. It’s probably not recording at this point.
Akvile: I do a little dance party.
Selena: Do you really? Like blast music, socks on, slide dance party or do you involve like Zane and your dog?
Akvile: Zane doesn’t work at home anymore. I have the whole place to myself and like, “Well, I can blast anything I want.” Sometimes our musical tastes vary so I’m wearing headphones working all day, it keeps me focused but if I need a little break, then I stand up and like, “Alright.” Put it on the jam box, turn it up. Jock doesn’t play with me while I’m dancing ’cause he thinks I’m trying to play with him but I’m just like, “No you just dance it out”.
Selena: So what is your song to dance to? Now I’m just picturing this and I’m really curious.
Akvile: Oh man.
Selena: Like do you go full on pop like Beyonce? Or do you have…
Akvile: So when I’m doing work in analytical stuff, I have to listen to things that don’t have lyrics or just like…I love drum and bass. So I’ll listen to that all morning and then in the afternoon, where it’s creative time, it’s hip-hop or like two-step or deep house but I love dancing to house music ’cause you can’t just not dance to like the beat. Lately, I’ve been listening to Gorgon City so that’s usually a good station on Pandora and it’s very happy, uppity like the type for a dance off.
Selena: So what I’ve gleaned from this whole conversation is that you have solo dance parties which is awesome and do you use Pandora versus Spotify?
Akvile: I do.
Selena: Why? I’m just curious because I’m a Spotify user and I know a lot of Pandora users still and I used Pandora for a while but I just couldn’t, I don’t know, I like having full control over my music selection. I think that’s it for me.
Akvile: I do use Spotify on occasion if I want something that’s more current but I mostly listen to SoundCloud since I like to have a continuous mix going on. There are a lot of artists in there that I like and a lot of smaller ones that haven’t done record deals that I really enjoy their music so I’ll use some of that and then Pandora if I don’t want a mix but they have a lot of stations that have…I was able to find a lot of unique music that I like, especially stuff that’s not on the radio. So, I’ll do that. Actually, I have a Top 40 thing, I’ll admit. I like a little Rihanna and Beyonce sometimes. Oh, the dance song, the new Missy Elliott track.
Selena: I haven’t heard it, I don’t think. Oh wait, did she release a video with this one?
Akvile: She did.
Selena: Okay, then I have heard it because I remember watching the video and being like, “Wow, she’s still dancing” but you can tell that she’s getting a little older like, her poppin’ and…
Akvile: She still got it, though.
Selena: Yeah, she does, for sure and she came back out of nowhere. Then after…it was SuperBowl last year, I think, where all the young, youngins’ were like, “Who’s this Missy Elliott chick? She’s gonna be big.” I was like, “Wow, you guys. Google. Google her” and they will tell you that she’s been around a long time. Okay. So we’re going to kind of go into a Q & A round now. It’s not the speed round yet, it’s Q & A. What do you think is your favorite thing about building your life ’cause it seems from a young age, you were always just kind of building, building, building, building. You don’t follow a traditional path. What do you love about it and what keeps you doing it?
Akvile: Well, we only have one life, right? So, try to do as much as possible and I guess it kind of goes in the nature of my work that…A/B test everything so, I do try everything which I think I like better and so…does that answer your question?
Selena: Yes, it did. Let’s see. Actually, this is something that’s good before we get too deep into the questions. So I think you’ve touched on this before which is why it just popped in my head. Do you have an underlying theme that’s followed you between everything that you’ve done? What is the one thing that you enjoy from each endeavor? For me, I’ve said this before as I explain to people, but I really like storytelling and everything that I do or work in involves some form of storytelling, even marketing does that and audience building. Do you have something like that that ranges from your passions?
Akvile: Philanthropy in different ways. From just helping strangers to family and friends, to nonprofits, it gives me purpose and I think, naturally, I’m just more of a giver than a taker but at the same time, I guess, when I give, I just want to be rewarded with gratitude and a deep passion about it. I’m not very good at bs-ing certain things, especially things that I’m passionate about. So, I try to help people but also find passion at it.
Selena: Yeah, I think that’s great because one of the things that I feel like people forget, especially when you’re not…I mean everybody has to have money to live, right, but one of the things that we forget is the feeling that when you give somebody or help somebody with something and they just enjoy it, they’re happy and they look to you with appreciation. That’s such a good feeling and I think we lose that in the day to day of working with clients for money or you know, whatever that is. If we can find that in our day to day, working with clients, yes, there is an exchange of money but, at the end of the day, you’re helping them improve what they’re doing. If we can like seek that out, I think it makes the days more enjoyable.
Akvile: That it does.
Selena: Do you think, this is kind of philosophical, do you feel like we, as we are now, are really shaped by our past endeavors or do you think that our past endeavors…I’m going to butcher this question. Let me rethink this. Do you think that the types of endeavors we choose to take on is shaped by who we are at the core or do you think that they’re shaped by things that we’ve done? Kind of nature versus nurture, I guess, is probably a better way to promote that, now that I’ve confused the shit out of myself.
Akvile: Great question. I personally believe that we are who we are at the core but life is always ever evolving. The people that we interact with, the situations we come across, I think it helps shape our exterior. I think that life just shapes you. You go through ups and downs and the good things make you more appreciative of the good things and when you hit a low spot, I think it kind of puts things into perspective but I think that at your core, you know who you are, how you present yourself to the world and I think just throughout life, you’ll run into things and you can kind of shape your life story, essentially. If you were helpful one way when you were younger and then over time, certain experiences, you can find other ways to be helpful. I think you already write your core but it has room to…it can evolve.
Selena: Yeah. I love that answer because nothing is certain. Yeah, I think we just constantly evolve. We’re like moths to butterflies and then if a butterfly had like a third thing that it did. So this is kind of a gender-centered question. I usually try to stay away from gender specific things just because I don’t view…let’s step back. So for me, I have a lot of passions that don’t tie into marketing so I write, I like acting, I like creating content, all that stuff but as a woman in business, sometimes you feel like when people know that side of you as well, it kind of makes you feel like you need to keep certain passions out of the picture so that people would have a professional view of you. Do you feel like, you know, with deejaying and how you’re forging your path, do you just bring all of you to the table in professional situations or do you feel like…how do you deal with people?
Akvile: It depends on the person. I’m usually pretty intuitive when I meet people and I can gauge how much I can share. I’m usually pretty trusting with people but I’ve learned to kind of tone that down until they gain my trust, essentially. So, with certain clients, I’ll pick up whether it’s all just, “Let’s talk shop” and then if there’s room to…on client meetings like, “Oh, hey. How’s your day?” If they ask, “How is your weekend, what did you do?” Over time, I’ll drop little things like, “Oh, I enjoy doing this” and kind of give a better idea of who I am. I don’t hide it. I love to paint and I love music, obviously. Although I don’t do that anymore, I’m traveling which I’m trying to do a little bit more of. So, I’ll drop a little smitten that’s here and there but I hope that they’d want to work with me regardless of what my personal life entails and I would hope that they’d be like, “Oh, that’s cool.” I don’t know, maybe it would give them…make them feel, I don’t know, there’s a whole human element so it’s not just business so it’s like, “Great I can do campaigns and do whatever job that needs to be done but I also have this other side to me.” It should maybe, influence or make it better, if anything. It’s like, “Okay, let’s work. That’s it, there’s all there is to me.”
Selena: Yeah, I think it’s very enriching, I think, because when…I mean, there are people who are in the situations where they just work, work, work and they literally, don’t have a passion and I feel like they’re missing bringing something to the table or when they don’t have other areas that they enjoy because you can pull something from everything that you do. It doesn’t have to be a direct connection but if you’re working on a campaign or I’m working on something content related, things that are my passion, I could think back and be like, “Oh, you know I realized that this tied into this. Why don’t I bring this into a content campaign and see how people react to it?” So, I love that. I think that we shouldn’t restrict who we are as like a 360-degree person. I just noticed, I don’t know, I’ve heard conversations where it seems like, and maybe this is just old generation versus new generation, because millennials, are we considered millennials?
Akvile: I think we’re like right before…
Selena: We’re like Gen X?
Akvile: Yeah, I think that’s right. Technically, Wikipedia says we are but I can’t relate. I feel like I am right before, whatever, the Millennials. So I think we’re Gen X or is it Gen Y?
Selena: I don’t know.
Akvile: Maybe Gen Y.
Selena: I think it’s Gen Y. I think parents are Gen X? I don’t know, it’s confusing ’cause I feel like I’ve looked at three or four different sites and Millennials have this strange range of dates where there’s not a specific date.
Akvile: Which do you identify with more ?
Selena: I kind of feel like I’m in the middle because I get a lot of what the younger generation is doing because I have a lot of friends who have kids so I see them on their iPhones. I’m like, “What are they doing, iPhones at nine years old.” It’s crazy what they do but actually, this is something…we didn’t talk about talking about this but I’m really interested in your take. Do you feel like the younger generation because they’re so exposed to social media and basically, from birth, they’re online? Do you feel like that’s going to help or hinder them in the future? Do you feel like the skills are going to excel or do you feel like they’re going to lose the ability to build human relationships?
Akvile: You know, it’s hard to generalize because my niece, she’s 18. She’s always on her phone, always on Snapchat but she still understands the importance of a human connection and she knows when to put her phone away. I think that’s also part of her upbringing.
Selena: Yeah, it’s rare to see that.
Akvile: It’s from the stuff I see or read from people I don’t know. I would see people are always on their phones and the kids are just walking like. The other day I was walking with the dog and Zane and there were two girls who were holding up their phones, snap chatting and walking down the sidewalk. I was like, “Watch where you’re going. You better not trip.” The girls weren’t even talking to each other, they were both on their phone and there’s that whole thing about, “together alone” and it makes you wonder that Millennials, some of them, get out of College or finish High School and go out into the real world to get a job, that I wonder if that’s going to hinder them getting a job because they don’t know how to interact properly with somebody face to face versus a screen.
Selena: Yeah. I think about that a lot. Just curious what your take was. I’m kind of fascinated with watching the younger generation grow up because they have so many things that we didn’t have but I think we did the best job of adapting ’cause we, not only in our time, didn’t have computers, but then we shifted into all of that stuff coming in and then we adapted to the Internet. So, we’re just…we’re ballers.
Akvile: Yeah, yeah.
Selena: We’re the best generation.
Akvile: We are.
Selena: She just raised the “roof”. Quote unquote. Okay, so which of these do you feel got you to where you are now and what do you want to build upon? I have these four mantra words that I’ve picked out; boldness, adaptability, fearlessness, and confidence. What do you feel got you where you are now and then which one do you want to build upon.
Akvile: I don’t really have a lot of fears so I think, “boldness” and “fearlessness” got me where I am now. I never considered myself bold until just a few years ago. It was like, “Oh, you’re bold, you moved all over the place and you started your own business and I never thought about it, but I guess I have been bold looking back, now that we’re kind of going back to my life. The one thing that I didn’t really have that I’m still working on is the confidence portion of that. So, I’d like to become more confident but having your own business, you kind of have to, naturally, be into the conversations that aren’t comfortable and sometimes you have to talk about money and you can’t really do that unless you’re, at least, put up that front that you’re confident until you actually believe it. What’s that saying? “Fake it ’till you make it.”
Selena: The whole confidence thing is interesting because I feel like, kind of the whole “Fake it ’till you make it”, like even if you’re not a confident person, you’re just put into so many weird situations that over time, you start to acquire a reassurance with yourself, where you think, “Okay, I’ve had this really awkward conversation before”. Though it’s uncomfortable and I’m not very confident, I know the way to approach it so I think, honestly, being an entrepreneur, having a business, whatever you want to call it, is one of the best ways to gradually build confidence ’cause you just kind of have to, you have no choice.
Akvile: Let’s do that!
Selena: And you have to talk to a lot of people so that, by nature, and then you start building up confidence and reading people and stuff like that.
Akvile: That’s a good thing. As we get older, it’s starting to be not as a…that sounds bad when I say it. I still obviously care a lot, but you know when you get older, you’re probably self-conscious about the way you speak or how you second guess yourself in front of people but I think that compared to when you’re younger when you’re still a teenager, usually you’re self-conscious and everybody thinks you’re weird.
Selena: Yeah and you’re really worried about, like friends and how people perceive you and being liked and all of that stuff.
Akvile: So I think as you get older, you get a little more confident through that too.
Selena: For sure. Okay so this is going to be our closing question before we hit the speed round. What do you feel is one piece of advice that you want to give somebody who wants to live PermissionLESS and just make a big leap, do something they’ve been wanting to do. What’s your piece of advice?
Akvile: This is isn’t like East Logan, I told you, just take it right now but obviously just do it. Simplest way to put it. If you want something, do it, try it. What’s the worst that can happen if it doesn’t work out? So say you want to move somewhere, move there. You can always move back if it doesn’t work out. If you want to try a new job or do career path or want to learn a skill or maybe try a new hobby and hope that you’ll be good at it and if you’re not, that’s okay. Just do it, you’re not going to lose, you might gain something out of it, so it’s worth taking that chance.
Selena: Yeah and I mean even if you fail, you still learn. As long as you don’t fail..so you can fail smartly and you can fail stupidly, I guess. That’s the only way I can put it where if you just know that you’re doing it wrong and yet you do it anyway, then that’s one thing but if you kind of research like look into what you want to do, learn everything about it, set yourself up for success then you can fail smartly. Take that lesson and apply it to the next thing. So, just do it. #justdoit.
Selena: Okay, speed round. So I’ll give you a choice, what’s your favorite book or podcast to help push your mindset out of its comfort zone?
Akvile: It would be PermissionLESS.
Selena: Yes. Score. That makes me happy.
Akvile: But make sure to hear all the other ones that you’ve recorded.
Selena: I’m actually going to leave that answer. Now I’m curious because of your dance party story. What are your two badass songs that get you pumped up?
Akvile: That’s a loaded question. It’s so hard for me to just pick one. So, I guess, off the top of my head, the Missy Elliott song and then there’s this new, I don’t know if you’re into drum and bass, but there’s a really amazing mix that I’ve probably been listening to for the last five days non-stop on SoundCloud, by Metalheadz out of Hospital Records. So, that’s probably.
Selena: What is it?
Akvile: I’ll share a link with you later.
Selena: Yeah ’cause I want to hear it. I want to hear it and I’m also going to share it with everybody. So they’ll be able to hear it too.
Akvile: Awesome. Hopefully, it’ll pump them up. There’s a Hospital Records one and then there’s a Metalheadz one.
Selena: Okay, cool. For everybody listening, I’m going to put all these in the show notes too, so you’ll be able to stock all the songs and anything that she’s talking about. Who is somebody that you feel truly lives PermissionLESS? It can be an idol, it can be a loved one, idol…that word is so weird, or a person in business, anybody.
Akvile: I would have to say my mother and our mutual friend, Pamela Lund. They’re both very bold, ambitious, kind and caring people that do live PermissionLESS. They try to figure out the best path for them and people they care about. I look up to both of them very much.
Selena: I wonder if Pam’s ears are burning. I should text her and be like, “Do you feel like somebody’s talking about you right now?” ’cause we’re kind of are. Who is somebody that you’d like to see interviewed on PermissionLESS? It can be anybody, I can’t guarantee I can get them but I just want to know.
Akvile: Richard Branson.
Selena: Ooh, that’s an interesting one.
Akvile: Make it happen, no pressure.
Selena: One of my other guests who I love, she suggested Betty White.
Akvile: That would be fantastic.
Selena: And I was like, “How…what..how can I make it happen?” ’cause that didn’t even cross my mind but if you look at her career and who she is, she lives her life how she wants to. She’s just a badass woman. Okay. So that was the last of all the questions we had and I really loved everything that we talked about. I mean, the fact that you have a creative and an analytical side which I think is unique so you have a lot of creative endeavors that you enjoy but you’re very, I mean, when you’re working and paid, you have to be just very analytical especially when it comes to recording and keeping tabs on things. But I want to close this out with what has been the most favorite place that you’ve traveled to off your bucket list?
Akvile: Last August, Zane, my boyfriend and I, went to Zion National Park. That was probably the most beautiful place I’ve been to but since it’s fresh out of my mind right now, I’m actually leaving for Belize next Tuesday with my cousin and we’re doing…
Selena: Did you watch Breaking Bad at all?
Akvile: Just a few seasons. Oh, at the beginning, a few seasons and then the end, I missed the middle.
Selena: So you hear the Belize part?
Akvile: Should I know this before I go on my trip?
Selena: I don’t know. I won’t spoil it for you. I mean, I can spoil it for you, I do that for everybody anyway. So whenever one of the characters would say, “Going to the Belize” and if I’m remembering correctly ’cause it’s been awhile, it just means that they’re going to kill them, like they’re dead. So you said, “Belize” and it clicked.
Akvile: Why the hell would I be doing that on my trip? One of my life goals is to never get arrested.
Selena: That’s a good life goal. I feel like everybody should live by that. So if anybody wants to find you, whether it’s business related, marketing related or just because they want to contact you and talk to you about other stuff, where can they find you?
Akvile: You can find me on Twitter at akvileharlow and for spelling reasons, it’s a-k-v-i-l-e harlow or you can email me at email@example.com.
Selena: Alright, awesome. Well, thank you so much. It’s been a blast having you here even though it’s like 100 degrees and I really appreciate it. I know our audience is going to love hearing your story and hopefully I’ll get to see you again soon.
Akvile: Likewise. Thank you so much for having me. Really great.
Selena: Bye! Thank you for listening to PermissionLESS.
Thanks again for listening in to the PermissionLESS podcast. We will have Episode 4 up in two weeks so, two Mondays from now. If you want to catch up with us on social media, you can find us at twitter.com/permission_less, long story behind that. You can also find us on Facebook, which is just the permissionLESS name, and you can also check out permissionless.com if you want to sign up for our newsletter and keep up with any of our updates. So I will catch you for the next episode. See you later.
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