We had the good fortune of connecting with Brian Femminella and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Brian, what’s the most important lesson your business/career has taught you?
I am young, there is no doubt in that, and it has allowed me to bring a diverse perspective to my entrepreneurial career. My time is divided in half; from being back into the college setting at USC for academic rigor and when I am out of the classroom I feel that I am five years out of college working on a full-time business. With this divide, I have been forced to learn more about myself and where my priorities in life stand more than I ever have before. Having a career that has already taken off in the start-up scene at 21, I have been taught a lot. The most important thing that I have taken away from my experiences with startups is that, as a founder, you must have an unparalleled passion that never dies. Others will explain to you how your market is too small, your hard work is destined for failure, and other comments/opinions that could make or break your business. Many people think that revenue is the powerhouse behind a business, although that is true to a degree, I believe that a team’s passion and willingness to break barriers/think outside the box is the reason for businesses that shatter expectations and those that sink. You are only as strong as you empower yourself and your team to be, and without passion and dreams, yes I said dreams, your bright light begins to dim. Keep your motivation high, regardless of the struggles that come in your way, because if others can see your love for what you do (especially investors/VC’s) it goes a long way.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am proud of being an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community in the military, as I always want environments to be inclusive and accepting. In my eyes, I have been able to explain to hundreds that the uniform represents equality and we are all soldiers regardless of one’s differences. For me, I have had the fortunate opportunity to get involved in politics at a young age (it’s a blessing and for sure a curse), where I was able to learn that my passion lies in public service. I had the honor of working on Capitol Hill for the Majority Whip where I was able to focus solely on legislative policy and expand my advocacy as a young political activist.
Today, I am nine months away from commissioning as a 2nd LT in the United States Amy and I have the privilege of representing a wellness startup that focuses on the power of mental health tech through music, as their CEO. It wasn’t and still is not a glorious path, I always like to say that we must give up a great deal of our time and energy now so that we can live a life that others can’t that has been afforded to us by our impenetrable dedication to a mission. I still and always will struggle with my personal identity, believe it or not, fitting in and finding a true community has always been hard for me. I have a hard time with trust, and I was able to find a community both in college and in-service that felt weird at first, especially coming from an area where I was not meant to fit into, and I was able to build some of the strongest relationships to date in my life. I believe that we are capable of impressing ourselves every day, but many people choose to compete against others and that is the major downfall that people fail to recognize. I learned quickly that every day you are in competition with who you were yesterday, and as long as you continue to learn and grow from your experiences, you are becoming a more aware and mature leader.
I want everyone to know that SoundMind came from a personal place, in which all of our team has personal struggles or has witnessed severe mental health struggles on a first-hand basis. When people feel alone or are in need of a resource, I want SoundMind to be something that comes to mind in everyone’s mind. Calm is the current powerhouse of the mental health space, and I want the world to know that LA founders Brian Femminella and Travis Chen are up for the challenge to make SoundMind the next world-renowned app in health. If you have a passion and a reason to keep on going, I recommend you grab onto it and pursue it. I think this is a big reason for SoundMind’s pre-launch success because we know that people are struggling and we have real people relying on us.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If my friends came to town, I would take them around West Hollywood to show them all of the vibrant culture and creativity that stems from the community. We would have a nice brunch at Chaumont in Beverly Hills and then spend dinner at Elephante or one of the best KBBQ spots in DTLA to really bring LA culture to life. For nightlife, we would absolutely stop by any events going on in West Hollywood at the Abbey or Nightingale. As an attempt to showcase more of the scenery, I would take them on a hike in Encino and hangout at the famous USC Village.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Without a doubt, I want to give my shoutout to my colleagues in the United States Army. Specifically, Ben Shallenberger, Caleb Ogle, Joe Watson, Dan Rodriguez & Coltin McBain. As a founder, it is extremely difficult to find individuals that have your back regardless of any situation. I must tell you, these five incredible leaders and soldiers have my back regardless of the situation. They have pushed me to not only ignore the negativity around me but also to appreciate the little things in life that we sometimes forget when things like entrepreneurship get so overwhelming. The military, in my opinion, is where you form inseparable bonds. I want to thank them for giving me tough love, bringing some clarity into my judgment, and being a support system that I never knew I needed.