Before there was a website, a shop in shop, a collaboration pipeline....there was a very heartfelt conversation among us as to what we wanted GR8-1 to be. What we wanted it to say and what we wanted it to stand for. Ultimately, we agreed that purpose and authenticity and encouraging young men and women to #LIVEONPURPOSE became our rallying cry. When we received Alex's personal story submission, we couldn't have felt more validated of the fact that we're building a brand that is much more than an apparel brand but rather a platform for empowerment. Alex story speaks to grit, determination, passion and most importantly gaining agency over one's own life. We sat down with Alex to gain more insights into his personal journey and hope you're as inspired as we are by his story.

1Q - Dialog and communication were some of the most salient points to your GR8-1 story submission. Can you speak to the role you see them playing on a wide scale and most importantly in your life

1A - When I began my business career in 2018, my mentors would often say that the number one thing that you can do to succeed is to listen more than you speak.  I believe my mom said it best when she told me that I was given two ears and only one mouth for a reason.  The only way to truly learn in life is by listening to stories and experiences that those around us tell.  Although history isn’t always a beautiful thing, it is worth talking about to ensure that the same problems don’t occur over and over again.  Dialog and communication late in my college years was critical to bringing me to the point that I am today because I stopped learning.  Although I had great experience with my college years, I was always searching to learn more.  I see both dialog and communication as being the sole factor to progressing individuals to their full potential in whatever they are passionate about.  Of course though, there is the caveat of surrounding yourself with those that you aspire to be.  Meaning that I’m not going to take advice about becoming an astronaut from a professional baseball player and vice versa.  Surround yourself by good people, open your ears, and I’m certain that your own vision of success will become a reality.


2Q - Discipline plays a crucial role in your story. Can you share how one successfully adopts it and internalize it?

2A - Discipline is one of those words that make people cringe in conversations.  Back in my younger years, I LOVED sleeping in, and I LOVED to play video games.  Although there is nothing wrong with either of these things, spending a lot of time sleeping or playing games wasn’t going to get me to what I believed that I wanted to be.  I am quite a realist, and I genuinely believe that people can achieve incredible things when they put their minds to it.  Although there are some humans that are better than others, there is plenty of room out there to get your own piece of the pie.  How someone adopts and internalizes discipline is simply by getting out of bed and getting it done.  What I mean by this is that although I didn’t want to wake up at 4:30 am today to run, I still did it because in my head, success is getting across the half marathon line in first place.  When I was two-hundred and sixty pounds, the last thing I ever thought about was running.  Discipline is such a powerful tool that everyone should adopt to their day-to-day.  Whether your dreams are to sell more than your peers, run a marathon, or be successful in whatever you want in life, it takes discipline.


3Q - How do you balance authenticity with needing to “fit-in”?

3A - This is such a great question because I have always struggled with wanting people to know that I am being authentic.  I said it earlier that I am a realist, but I really am described by my peers as being extremely optimistic and having a positive outlook on situations.  Often times this has made people a little weary of me with first impressions.  Balancing authenticity with needing to “fit-in” is actually quite easy, and when done correctly, is a massive relief.  I have found my balance by being myself.  In 2018, I stepped into a relatively high level position at a safety company, and truth be told, I knew NOTHING about the industry.  This level of ignorance always made me feel like I was trying to be something that I am not and act like I knew it all.  It wasn’t until I realized that not knowing it all was actually a beautiful thing and allowed for me to ask the real pros questions that will eventually make me a specialist in my field.  Nothing good ever happens overnight, or when we try to be something that we’re not.  Balance this by listening more than you speak, and never forgetting where you came from.   


4Q - How did you successfully bridge your realization that you were only a year from the "real world" and the actual achievement of your many milestones?

4A - Discipline.  After completing a successful internship with Amazon, I realized that I was only one fish in a very large ocean.  I mean seriously, there are some smart people out there!  I knew that although I could talk the talk, being average wasn’t going to cut it to get me where I want to be in life.  Believe me in saying that this realization was like when a lifelong smoker gives up cigarettes cold turkey.  I sat in bed one morning and told myself that I needed to wake up at seven o’clock, have breakfast, and prepare for my first class of senior year.  What I then did was set my alarm and made a promise to myself that no matter what, I was going to wake up at this time each day.  Like anything else in life, doing it the first time is always the hardest time!  After a week I realized that going back to my old ways wasn’t going to work and I fully adopted a discipline lifestyle that I promised myself to not give up on.  I want to be clear in stating that after day one, it really wasn’t hard.  


5Q - What are the true measures in your opinion of what makes a GR8-1?

5A - I made a comment earlier that sleeping in late and playing video games wasn’t going to make it for me.  With that being said, there are plenty of GREAT career opportunities where people do both of these things and could be considered a GR8-1.  What I believe makes someone a GR8-1 is those that do everything in their power to achieve their full potential.  The start of achieving success is defining what success looks like in the mind of that individual.  My measures for success in running were both getting healthy (losing weight) and achieving my distance goals.  Once I achieved both of these things, I then began working on becoming a competitive runner and so on.  Understanding that success isn’t an end all be all and something that is forever a moving target is extremely powerful.  Setting little targets along the journey is what helped me stay discipline and on track.


6Q - What advice would you share with the GR8-1 community to #LIVEONPURPOSE ?

6A - Don’t let anyone tell you what your definition of success or greatness is.  You only get one chance at this life, so be good to people, and don’t live some average life that doesn’t make you feel good.  Also, I would recommend that everyone take a good hard look in the mirror and understand who they are, and what they truly want to be before starting their journey to individual success.  The only person that can get you to where you want to be is you.  Don’t sell yourself short and never give up!


7Q - GR8-1 is……..

7A - Someone that isn’t afraid to go after whatever they believe their definition of success is.

July 02, 2021 — Michele Colonna

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