As a child I was fascinated by the greats of the world. And by the greats I mean people in every field or domain whose legacy remained in history. I spent my teenage years studying these people hoping that one day I might be one of them. I realised that in order to remain in history, you need to either tell a good story yourself, or have someone tell a good story about you. Years later, I found out this was called personal branding and realised it was my calling. In order to become a brand master, you need to have interdisciplinary expertize as well as a visionary outlook on life. My background as a painter combined with my academic inclination (I was class valedictorian and I have been to several national competitons) proved the perfect backbone for my further studies in marketing. I studied politics at Queen Mary University of London as well as marketing and e-commerce at London School of Economics, and by my second year of university, I had already been travelling around the world, speaking in front of hundreds of business people and entrepreneurs about branding and marketing. It was also my second year of university when I started doing brand consultancy and collaborated with figures such as George Ross (Donald Trump’s Right Hand Man, Executive VP and Senior Counsel – The Trump Organisation) and Wayne Allyn Root (US Vice Presidential Nominee, Best-Selling Author, TV and Radio personality). I started KO by Karina Ochis, a next generation branding and marketing company, because I realised that having a strong brand in the online world is mandatory in our times, yet most business people did not have the time to do it nor any idea of how to do it. As mentioned, I published two books on the subject, being a best seller for the book „Cracking the Code to Success”, co-authored with Bryan Tracy (Chairman of Bryan Tracy International and world – renowned development authority) . I constantly speak to international audiences on the subjects of personal branding, employer branding and marketing in general and I coach a small network of individuals who want to create elite brands and lives for themselves. At the end of September 2017 I will receive an award for my contribution on elite branding, in Hollywood, on the same stage where the first edition of the Oscars were held. In this sense I cannot wait to prove that my theory works.
What made you take the leap into entrepreneurship?
First of all, I should mention that it is my true belief that one is born an entrepreneur and that entrepreneurship can not be taught. Skills and abilities can be taught, but entrepreneurial intent is something innate. When it comes to my leap I believe it was a matter of timing. I had an idea on my life about how I wanted to live my life and how I wanted to inspire others and give back to society. I kept on working on my vision, I kept on trying new things and then one day the picture was complete and I simply knew I had to do it. My only sorrow would be that I did not start even earlier.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
The honest answer is my brand as a whole because a brand is not only one thing but it is a sum of elements. When you own a well build brand, you cannot say that one singular element is responsible for your success but the ensemble in itself is responsible for your success. The consequence of a correctly created brand is that clients start pursuing you instead of you pursuing clients. However, if I were to single out one factor, I would have to give credit to me being a professional international speaker and coach on the subjects of branding, marketing, leadership, entrepreneurship and so on. It has definitely played an important part in exposing myself as an expert in my field to my target audience. The audience that comes to see you speak, are usually interested in your topic so as a speaker you do have the advantage of your stage – and of course you have to be a very good speaker as well.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
This is a very good question. I wish I had known that there isn’t this one hack, that there is no fast lane to success, no genie in a bottle, for sure no golden goose. I spent so much time and money searching for that life changint event of piece of information and then I came to the realization that there is no such thing. I know numerous people who spend their lives to search for opportunities. But, you cannot spend your life merely searching for those great opportunities because then you fail to recognize the small incremental opportunities you have everyday to better yourself. You must take advantage of each incremental resource and turn every life context into an opportunity. At the end of the day, there is only hard work and strategic thinking that accounts for our success. Some people never reach success because they either do not work hard enough, and do not do the day to day nitty-gritty stuff or because they are not patient enough and give up before they can harvest the roots of their labour.
What advice would you give to an upcoming young and old entrepreneur locally and internationally?
You can not build a brand, a business or a career without knowing who you are, what drives you and what are you willing to give up for your dream. You must be absolutely honest with yourself. Maybe you’re not made to be an entrepreneur, maybe you are made to be a top manager, maybe you are meant to be a freelancer, maybe you are made to be that great employee or director that can completely change the management of someone’s company. It is a cool concept nowadays to be an entrepreneur, but the hardship comes in? the chorus until you reach the success you wish for and if you are not made for it, you will give up or you will only reach a mediocre level of success. Then, after you figure out what you want out of life and what you’re willing to sacrifice in order to reach that goal, you must ensure that you focus on what you can influence and what is important. You must manifest situational triage in your day to day life – that is to figure out what you can’t influence, what you can influence, but you shouldn’t and focus on what you can and should influence. Also, at this stage, you should ? that the people you should surround yourself with. Do not expect to reach great success with a mediocre circle of influence. These would be in my opinion the pillars on which a successful life is built.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
Personally, I had a very innovative vision. It wasn’t a copied concept. It wasn’t something I have ever seen. Sure, I was inspired by certain people and by certain systems of management. Yet, being something completely new, there were parts I wasn’t sure of, so it took a long while for me to gain the information that I required, surround myself with the right mentors and bulid a strong base of human resources, a strong base of people I could depend on, carry out the things that I claim I can carry out. Because not one person can succeed alone. You first need people to believe in you, you need people to teach you, you need people to help you and you need people to work with you. It took a few good years to figure all of those out and that is why I became a life coach for the digital era myself. Because I wish to give something back and I wish to help others figure out their paths and learn how to survive in this digital era.
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits?
How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
I’m against answering this type of personal questions, but I’ll give you a glimpse into my life. I don’t have a rags to riches story. I come from an upper-middle class family. My struggle though, was not to make ends meet, that was never my problem. My struggle was to be allowed to manifest myself as a powerful, independent, businesswoman in a context, in a country and in a family where I was expected to be someone’s pretty social-liked wife. In other words, it was not believed in my family that a woman should be independent, or at least not completely independent, but she sould be a beautiful, smart, companion for her husband. However, I always knew that was not my calling. It took my family numerous years to understand my stand point and this matter and I really had to assert myself that I could make ends meet in a man’s world. In terms of friends and relatives, most of them, never really got it, but once you take up this entrepreneurial journey you find out that the saying ”the winner is alone” is very true. It is a type of loneliness you get used to because in all honesty, people who don’t do this in their day to day life can never really get it. It’s one of those sacrifices you just have to make.
Briefly tell what is it that you do?
I am the CEO and Brand Master at KO by Karina Ochis, next generation branding and marketing company. Which calls for the question what is a brand master? A brand master is manager and creator of brands whether they are personal, employer, products or company brands. As mentioned before, KO by Karina Ochis is the next generation branding and marketing company. Through elite consulting and high-end digital services, clients are provided with luxury products for brand management. The team of devoted professionals collaborate in providing a complete and discreet service that is time-effective, quality and client–oriented.I am also the founder Ana Karina Luxury Concept. Ana Karina Luxury Concept is dedicated to turning concepts into reality. We are committed to the design and implementation of extraordinary hotels, resorts, spas, restaurants and business venues. We offer significant hospitality development and management services. We transform the ideas of our clients into unique concepts and profitable establishments. Which implies I am a serial entrepreneur, an international speaker and a life and brand coach. I am also a best-selling author with two published books, the best seller “Cracking the Code to Success” in which I elaborated my formula on elite branding and “The Influence of Social Media on US Presidential Campaigns: A Case Study of 2008 and 2012” which addresses the US presidential elections from the online public sphere and social media point of view. Furthermore, I am the producer of Branding Biz. Club, a YouTube show which combines comedy, celebrities and human interest stories, as in each episode, I analyze the strengths and weakness of famous personal brands, outlining useful tips and tricks for any entrepreneur, and Weekly K, my lifestyle and business vlog where I share information on branding, marketing, entrepreneurship and achievement strategies.