Coles Student Channels Personal Struggles into Inspirational Podcast
KENNESAW, Ga. (Apr 22, 2019) — As Christian “CeeJ” Brown reflects on his success as a student, entrepreneur, published author, and podcaster, he is acutely aware that his life could have gone a different way.
“I try to tell everyone about the importance of their environment,” he says. “You want to always be putting yourself in an environment where you can grow, whether it’s the through people you are around, the music you listen to, or the things you watch. It’s called a growth environment.”
Brown is a senior entrepreneurship major in the Michael J. Coles College of Business and the host of the Your Visionary Podcast. With its first season wrapping up this week, the show features in-depth interviews with entrepreneurs and other inspirational leaders. Produced alongside the Kennesaw State University chapter of Enactus, Your Visionary Podcast has received more than 1,000 downloads from fans across the county since December, and has become a valuable part of many people’s lives.
However, only five years ago, Brown quit college and found himself without any real direction. Realizing that he had to make a change, Brown soon began a personal journey to turn his life around.
‘Going Down the Wrong Path’
Brown originally enrolled at Kennesaw State University in 2014 after graduating from Grayson High School. While highly intelligent – he scored a nearly perfect score on an entrance exam – he lacked direction.
“My Freshman year I didn’t really know what I was doing,” he says. “I wasn’t entrepreneurial-minded. When I first got here, all I was doing was partying. I was going down the wrong path.”
During his sophomore year, he lost the lease on his off-campus apartment after a SWAT team raided it looking for his roommate who was wanted in connection with a violent crime. Following this incident, Brown dropped out of college and moved in with some friends who were business students at Georgia State University.
Changing the people he associated with turned out to be the push Brown needed to build a better life for himself.
Inspired by his roommates, who were all developing business ideas, Brown began exploring his own options. He found success by contracting with a Chinese manufacturer to sell baby products under the name Healthy Comfy Living. After buying some social media advertisements and contracting with a popular social media influencer, his company soon took off.
He also got a job loading baggage onto planes for Delta Airlines. With a steady income and a Delta employee discount, he became a world traveler, visiting 13 countries in one year.
Traveling helped Brown develop a passion for writing. He kept detailed journals of his adventures, and self-published two books: Blue Dreams, about his travels in the Bahamas, and Negus in Nicaragua.
While on a trip to Senegal, Brown was shocked by the level of poverty he saw. But, he was more surprised by the positive attitudes of the people he met in spite of their circumstances.
“It made me think that if they can live there and still be happy, then why is anyone in America ever sad,” he says. “I realized that everyone struggles with something. Life is about finding happiness in the struggle.”
That became Brown’s purpose statement – to help people find happiness in their struggle through his writing. He sold his business, re-enrolled in Kennesaw State as an entrepreneurship major, and began pursuing a writing career.
The Power of a Mentor
On his first day of class in Entrepreneurship 4001 in Fall 2017, Brown met Mike Russell, a Kennesaw State alumnus and CEO of ETS Solutions, who was visiting as a guest speaker. After learning about Brown’s unique story, Russell offered to be his mentor.
“After our first meeting, I knew that CeeJ was not only going to be my mentee, but also my mentor,” says Russell. “I have learned so much from him and he also challenges me with questions about strategy and motivation. We now meet weekly to discuss relevant issues, business ideas, corporate culture, and core values.”
Russell gave Brown valuable advice about the importance of finding success in his passions, not only in what will make money. He also introduced Brown to his network of prominent Atlanta-area businesspeople, some of whom Brown has since ghostwritten books for.
Brown started the Your Visionary Podcast in December 2018 as a way to share that power of mentorship with other college students.
“I saw the problems that my peers had in terms of not having a clear direction,” he says. “And I saw how having a mentor changed my trajectory. I created a platform where I could have other mentors speak to students and inspire them; show them that everyone has their own unique story.”
Your Visionary Podcast
Guests on Your Visionary Podcast have included former circus ringmaster and current motivational speaker Bronkar Lee; Adrion Porter, a brand strategist with marketing experience at Cartoon Network and HBO; and international dancer Tacir Roberson, whose work can be seen in the music video for Beyonce’s song Partition.
Brown records the show in a dedicated podcast studio at Ignite HQ, a business incubator in Marietta that often collaborates with Kennesaw State’s Doug and Robin Shore Entrepreneurship Center. He is also a member of the Kennesaw State chapter of the socially responsible entrepreneurship organization Enactus, which helps produce the podcast.
“We are always looking for inventive ways to improve our community,” says Dennis Loubierre, the chapter’s faculty advisor. “CeeJ's outreach to students is very relevant to today’s students. His motivation is to inspire people to reach their full potentials and to be a role model for success.”
New episodes of Your Visionary Podcast release on Thursdays. The final episode of season one will be available on April 25.
Recording Your Visionary Podcast has been a rewarding experience for Brown, and one that has allowed him to share his positive outlook with his fellow students. In addition to the show, he also uses his writing to help inspire others. His recently self-published fifth book, The Positive Affirmation Guide, is about the power of pursuing one’s dreams and always moving forward.
Brown says the main goal of all his work is to encourage people to be “intentional.”
“That means taking a step outside your current situation and figuring out what you want your life to look like,” he says. “A lot of people are stuck in the present and don’t think about their futures. Once you have a vision, work backwards. Figure out what you can do today to get one step closer to where you want to be.”