28 Year old Koa Pennock joins us on this inspiring episode. We talk about succeeding with your back up against the wall, hard work mentality, beaches, fashion, cannabis, and life strategies. Koa is one of a kind. We met playing baseball as kids and our competitive spirit made us friends from the get go. He’s small and fast, I’m big and slow. He dresses well and finesses his way through situations, I show up in whatever I saw first in my closet and power through life. We both learn a lot from each other, and this is why any conversation with Koa is inspiring and just fun. This episode is our longest yet, but I promise its worth every minute. Enjoy!
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-Koa and I sat outside Urban City Coffee in Mountake Terrace on a beautiful early summer day drinking spiced chai and coffee.
-The bar we reference in Baltimore just outside Camden Yards is Pickles Pub. I Highly recommend stopping by there for one before the ballgame!
-Growing up in with an older brother and a cul de sac full of kids, Koa learned the value of competition at a very young age. Being the smallest, he always had his back up against the wall and learned to thrive in these situations. We see this theme throughout the interview.
-While playing all different team sports throughout his youth, Koa ultimately found cagefighting and took it with him as an anchor wherever he went. The sport forced him to again have his back against the wall and to figure out a way to win. In his case, he uses finesse over power to outmatch his opponents. This sport really shows a lot about who you are and can teach you your weaknesses very quickly.
-Koa graduated from Meadowdale High School with a 2.1 GPA and zero plan. College wasn’t in the picture for him. He had his back up against the wall, but he knew he would be fine. Actually, he knew he would thrive in this position. So, he took a job at the shipyard and went to work.
-After saving up $10,000 and getting laid off, Koa went to Hawaii for a hiatus to consider his next move. Here is a fun article from Forbes about planning a work hiatus. With a clear head, Koa decided it was time for a move to New York City.
-He took the first job that came his way at Paragon Sports. He knew this was not his long term landing spot, but he needed some income. What he really got out of this was a purpose to go downtown every day. From here, he made some friends and really got a lay of the land. Something is always better than nothing! Be occupied. Meet people. This is the only way things will move forward for you. “There is no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs.”
-With the long term goal of ending up in fashion, Koa began applying to jobs in the industry. He ultimately talked his way into a Part Time Customer Service Specialist role with UNIQLO, focusing on the Jil Sander collection. Listen as he talks about his approach to interviewing here. He had no credentials, but he knew he could smile hard and work long hours. With this confidence, all he needed was to get in a room with someone and “have a conversation and know the facts”. He was never intimidated: “How can a CEO intimidate you after cagefighting?”
-After he landed the job, he went all in. Supervising the Jil Saunders collection at UNIQLO at age 20, he focused on learning from the people above him. He was exposed to the Jil Sanders people and flew to Paris to open a store with them. It was pure chaos and extremely difficult, but he worked his ass off and made the best of it.
-Koa’s next hiatus was for 2 weeks in the mountains of the Okanogan National Forest. He turned everything off, and says it was like coming off of drugs. But he needed it. As soon as he got back to NYC, he was offered to manage the new 90,000 square foot store on 5th ave. He took it.
-Koa and his girlfriend moved to East Village with his promotion, and he felt like his plan was coming together. He was still hustling, but starting to reap the benefits of his hard work. I would say he had a bit of a chip on his shoulder, proving that the traditional college path was not necessary.
-Ultimately he spent 4 years at UNIQLO. As he was headed out the door, he was offered a promotion. He took a look at his boss’ life and realized he did not want that. He accomplished what he set out for at UNIQLO and moved forward.
-After another hiatus, he began to work in botique sales. Even though the money was not great, he insisted on a culture and lifestyle upgrade. Koa know fashion and style. He put himself in an environment that would enable him to understand it better.
-After recognizing he was in a stagnant stage of his life, he woke up. “If I’m not here with that driven hustler attitude, what am I doing here at all?” So he moved back home, to Seattle.
-He sees the Cannibas industry as a huge opportunity, and that’s tough to argue with. So, he took a job with an edible distributor. He is learning the industry from the bottom up. “Find the CEO you want to work for and work your way up.”
-Koa’s happy hour question was answered in Koa fashion, telling me he already had drinks with the one person he wanted to: Ricky Powell, a famous photogropher that Koa idolized. He would have never had this opportunity if he didn’t find his way to NYC and hustle his way there. I get inspired just writing this sentence!
-Conor Mcgregor, love him or hate him, is a force in this world. His youtube videos are inspirational for anyone. Get started here for a boost to attack your day.
-“If you’re chasing your dream, you’re not running fast enough. Run faster.” -Sean “Diddy” Combs
-Advice on taking hiatus: You still have to pay rent. Bulk up your savings account. Once you do it, completely separate yourself so you can clear your head and become you again.
-Overall life advice: “Once your doing it, DO IT! Yee haw. Go to town. Look alive. Don’t get emotional, take your ego out of it and make honest decisions.”
-Best slice in the city? Prince Street Pizza.
-Best Beach? Vieques Island in Puerto Rico.
-Koa is an amazing photographer. Follow him on instagram @koapennock
If you would like to get in touch with myself or Koa, please leave a comment on the blog post!
Thanks and always remember, you can either be the author of your life or the victim of it. Every day the choice is yours!