I've met quite a handful of people who always express their interest in being his or her own boss and starting his or her own business.
Those that want to break free of your typical 9-5. Although there are many that would love to just get up and build his or her own empire, it's not as easy as it seems. We're here to bring light to individuals that took risks to establish a name for themselves.
Our featured #influentialindividual is CJ Berina. I've had the privilege of knowing CJ for a few years now, and I can confidently say he is one of the hardest working people I know. He has been there for us since the beginning of MUNUM and we are fortunate to have our brand at Collective Lifestyle.
A lot only see the glories and success of entrepreneurship, but not a lot know the hustle and grind that continuously occurs on the back side of everything. This is what makes the boss life all the more rewarding - your success is a reflection of the time and effort that you put forth.
Read more about CJ below.
1. The basics: Who is CJ? Where did you grow up and where do you currently reside?
CJ: Well I’m CJ. CJ Berina is my name. Most people that have heard of me knew me from my dj name/twitter/instagram username @djceeej or DJ Ceeej. But now I’m just going with CJ Berina. I’m a 25 year-old serial entrepreneur. I am the owner of a lifestyle brand and streetwear store, Collective Lifestyle. I grew up in Northridge, CA in the San Fernando Valley of LA and am still here currently trying to put the valley on the map through our Collective Lifestyle movement.
CJ and DJ Vice
2. What are your hobbies/like to do on your spare time?
CJ: In my spare time I like to hang out with friends, party, adventure, hookah, go to music festivals, take pictures, meditate, people watch, play basketball, and eat food.
3. We know you’re a very busy guy, especially this year, with being a storeowner. Aside from managing Collective Lifestyle, what other businesses are you involved in?
CJ: Aside from Collective Lifestyle, I run another company, which was my first legal entity, called Project Ceeej Inc. It was actually a final project for a business class, but now is a full running business development firm that consults, strategizes, and manages the marketing, branding, and business development of 8 different companies and brands.
4. It’s pretty safe to say that you have a lot on your plate at an early entrepreneurial age. Many can’t even juggle one business, yet here you are, wearing multiple hats. What made you decide to start doing different business ventures?
CJ: Yea, I definitely do have a lot on my plate at my age, it’s quite stressful, but that’s where meditation comes in. I started different business ventures because all marketing takes time, especially for the type of clients that I had, so I had a lot of free time. Also, when I only had 1 business, I felt like I was still limiting my full potential because I was able to do so more. I was working 2-3 part time jobs with DJing, Venue Tradeshow, and the LA Clippers, while still running by business and my clients’ businesses. So I figured, why not add a little more?
5. From DJ to storeowner – how did that come about?
CJ: Well I was always good at marketing from a young age. I learned it all back in high school promoting my dj career and hosting some of the biggest high school parties the valley used to have. From there I learned how to market on Myspace. I used to follow all the big named brands in the industries that I liked, and always wanted to be like those guys and start my own thing. So coming out of college, I was good at marketing, but didn’t want to work for anyone. So I decided to start my own business. Since I started a mobile DJ company at 13 that was successful, it was a fairly easy transition. So I decided to start a marketing firm, but I eventually realized that marketing can only take you so far if your business operations aren’t fully there, so I decided to add business development and strategic consulting. Then of course, all marketing takes time, so I figured at that same time I would start another project that I was passionate about. I started Collective Lifestyle, which was a lifestyle blog aimed at showing different types of perspectives on a wide range of topics to help change the world in a positive way. Then I always knew that Northridge and the valley in general had a need for culture, fashion, streetwear, music, art, etc. because well the valley is pretty boring compared to it’s LA counterparts. So I made it my goal to open a store in 2015… March hits… and we signed the lease.
6. We all get days where our mind goes on a whirlwind action. Entrepreneurship is not the easiest path to take – how do you calm yourself down whenever you have these moments?
CJ: Oh, I definitely have lots of those moments, but to get through it all I meditate. Meditation has multiple health benefits, which includes decreasing stress. It really calms your mind and pushed out any worries you may have. I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t tried it before. It’s definitely a game changer once you can get it down. I suggest starting with a goal of 1 minute, then 3 minutes, 5 minutes, and eventually keep building up. A good goal is to meditate once or twice a day for 15 minutes. After that you will see tremendous changes in your life. Add another 15 minutes of cardio, and you’ll be feeling amazing every day!
7. Did you ever come across certain family members or friends who criticize your career choices? What were their objections and how did you handle it?
CJ: Of course! My aunt once sent me an email for a job offer, I responded “No thanks! I’ll take my chance working towards my own dreams than building some other rich guys’ dreams.” Eventually I heard that she was telling my cousins that “I need to get a real job.” I responded by opening a store. I haven’t heard anything since.
There were always similar type of responses, even from parents trying to pressure me to get a real job. But at the end of the day, it’s my life and my dream. I see how hard my parents work and their age, and I know for a fact that I do not want to get stuck in the rat race and be stuck in a 9 to 5 for 65 years. That’s why I work so hard. I work hard because I don’t like working, and I don’t want to have to work hard all my life. They say that Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t so you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.” And that’s the roadmap that I’m sticking with. If I don’t retire in 5 years, I’m still going to retire in 5 years anyway. I’d rather travel the world than work all my life.
CJ and Aaron Kai
8. Define a go-getter.
CJ: A go-getter is someone that goes and gets it. Haha. Someone that goes and chases. I like calling it chasing. Chasing dreams. Nothing will ever come to you, if it were that easy, everyone would be successful. But you really have to create your own reality and make things happen for yourself. Go get it.
9. What did you have to give up/sacrifice to follow your dream? If you could go back and change one thing, knowing what you know now, what would you have done different?
CJ: Some of the main things I’m giving up to follow my dream include sleep, time, and money. I’ve only taken about 3 naps in the last 7 months since signing my lease. The time leading up to signing my lease, I spent a good 6-8 months getting only 5 hours of sleep a day. While most people were sleeping, I was working till 5am. Even the last few nights in a row, I’ve been sleeping at 4am. I give up time because I have to spend so much time running my businesses. There’s not much time to socialize anymore as I used to in college. It sucks. Lastly, I’ve given up money. Lots and lots of money. I’ve had my first business for 3 years and haven’t paid myself yet. The same will probably go for my store too. I don’t pay myself because I know it’s better to keep the money in the business and keep flipping and investing in the business. Because as the business keeps doing better, the potential for growth is higher. But yea, with my work ethic and potential, the amount of big boy career money I’ve missed out is a lot. But I know that if I keep sticking with my dreams I’ll definitely have more money than that in the long run. I’d work for someone part time and get a little money, but I know that the more time I do working for them, is less time working for myself. So I have decided to stay fully committed to making my businesses work.
If I could change one thing, I would have tried to get a career job out of college and save up some money for a few months, then I would have flipped that money. Haha. That would have been ideal.
10. Your IG name recently changed from @djceeej to @cjberina – you explained on social media that you wanted to show who you really are and to basically just be you. What should your followers expect from the new and ‘real’ CJ?
CJ: Yes, I did. I dropped the dj ceeej dj name because a lot of people knew me as that, and I don’t really dj as much as I used to. It’s not my dream anymore… well maybe… But I know should living up to my full potential, and that’s by being me. So that’s what I’m going to do. If anyone has followed me before they’ve seen the places I’ve been and the things I’ve done. I’m going to keep doing that stuff, but probably a little bigger. I’m going to show more behind the scenes stuff, teach some important lessons or insights, share some cool pictures, and more personal stuff. If you haven’t followed me yet, feel free to add me @cjberina on Instagram or Twitter. I’m sure you might be entertained a little.
11. You’re talking to a group of admirers and people who find you as an inspiration. What is the best advice you can give them about following their dreams?
CJ: The best advice I can give you is… Just do it. Do it. Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t be afraid of your full potential. Know that you’re powerful. Know that you’re creative. Know that money isn’t everything. If you follow your passion, the money will come later. But you have to believe in your dream. You have to believe in yourself. You have to believe in it so much that you’re willing to bet your life on it. If you do that, plan a strategy to make it happen, act on the strategy, and believe in your dream and yourself with passion, purpose, and persistence, your dreams will come true. Just don’t quit! Too many people quit when success is right around the corner.
If anyone has any questions, you can always comment on my IG or Twitter @cjberina and I’ll always be happy to help in any way I can.
There you have it, folks! CJ Berina. Truly an inspiration and a great definition of a hustler. The theme of our #influentialindividuals segment is to show that not everything worth having comes easy. With great rewards come great sacrifices. But with persistance and drive, it's all possible. Like what CJ said, just don't quit! Make sure to follow him on his social media accounts - you'll definitely learn a thing or two.