Interview with Jason Raphael Stavrianidis (@jasonthegemologist)

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Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path? 

I’ve been coming into the family business ever since I was a little kid, and I wasn’t always fond of the business or working in the environment. To be honest, I did it mostly because I “had” to, more than I wanted to. Until one day, I was able to attend our Annual Holiday Party, and one of my duties was to greet the people as they were coming in. I was 17 years old at the time. It made such a tremendous impression on me to see so many people attending and coming into our store not necessarily as “just” clients, but the as extended family of the family business. I felt so proud of my father and aunt when people were coming in and hugging me and greeting me, and saying how happy they were connecting with the Venus Jewelers family. From then on, I realized that for 4 generations, my father, my aunt, and my late grandfather built a legacy, and I felt the responsibility and honor of continuing their legacy. All three of them contributed in one way or another in my decision to continue our family legacy and tradition. So, here I am today, 4 years later, involved in almost all aspects of the business from serving clients with products and services, networking, social media marketing, jewelry bench work, polishing, quality control, etc. I am the Fifth Generation of Venus Jewelers!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started doing this? 

I’ve been doing this for the past 4 years, full-time, and the most interesting story definitely has to be our big “Finder’s Keepers Event”, where we gave away over $10,000 worth of jewelry through a treasure hunt, promoted and showcased through various social media platforms. I was posting weekly clues, hiding jewelry around town, and having people go out and treasure hunting for the hidden gems! The results were astonishing! But this was more than just a giveaway for us. It was an opportunity for us to bring the community together and do something very different. I remember the very first week of this treasure hunt, we had the hype built up like crazy on Instagram! We were giving away a $2,000 18kt Yellow Gold Sapphire and Diamond fashion Ring to really start things off BIG, and everyone knew about it. On the morning of this very first treasure hunt, I could not believe how many people came out. I had random people hiding in the bushes trying to get an advantage, then there were people hiding down this mountain and others creeping up behind trees. I actually had to call it off because there were so many people there! We rescheduled it and made it more “fair” for everyone, and again, the results were awesome! Over the course of 3 weeks, we had over 300 people participate and it brought us great interaction and engagement through our social media platforms. To be honest, I was not expecting so many people to participate. Seeing families, friends, and even children come out to participate in the various treasure hunts filled me with so much joy…. everyone was having so much fun, laughing, and just genuinely enjoying themselves. This is what Venus Jewelers is all about. We rise by giving back. This treasure hunt brought me to the conclusion that, no matter what, you should always give back to others and support your community in any way you can.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? 

The first thing that comes in mind is to make sure that you are passionately in love with what you do. This is the key element in becoming successful and thriving in this business. If you aren’t passionate about this business, then that in itself is a problem. IF you truly love what you do, then you will constantly be more engaged and dedicated to what you’re doing. You will always find yourself more productive and motivated, moreover, you will genuinely enjoy your tasks and work. Love what you do AND also your industry, and that passion will constantly keep you thriving, steering away from possibly “burning” out.

Second, I strongly recommend for others to always find time for themselves. Let’s face it, working with social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook can sometimes consume up literally all of our time. We’re dealing with platforms that never stop, we can sometimes be responding to Direct Messages or Online Inquiries literally all day. There have been times where I easily spent 8 hours a day stuck on my phone trying to post as much as I could, get as much engagement as I could, find as many new potential clients as I could, etc. I became so consumed into my phone, that I started to lose track of reality and of the things that were right in front me: my family, my priorities, my happiness. It’s so important to remember to always take a step back when you are overwhelmed or starting to feel “burned out”, and just think positive. Think that every challenge is indeed an opportunity. In order to do this, you must first find time for yourself. Find time to think about your goals, your wants, feed your mind with information. Change your daily habits.

A while back I was on a Zoom call with Brad Lea, and he shared something remarkable with me, that has allowed me to constantly stay motivated and focused on ME. He explained it as the “morning routine” Every morning when you wake up, the first thing you do is grab a notebook and paper, and write down 10 small goals that you’re going to accomplish for the day. Examples of small goals could be: listen to 1-hour podcast on stocks, reach out to 20 clients, 2-hour workout for the day, etc. He went on to tell me that by the end of the day you should have all 10 goals checked off your list, and if you completed everything, you get a “W” for the day. If you don’t, then you get an “L”. If you get more W’s than L’s for the week, then you won the week. If you get more W’s in the month, then you won the month. Finally, if you get more W’s than L’s in the year, then you won the year. This made perfect sense to me. How can you burn yourself out if you are constantly improving your habits, ethics, and integrity with yourself, and feeding your mind with information? By doing this morning routine, you wake up with GOALS and can always remind yourself why you do what you do, and instill that confidence and authority within yourself.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story? 

I am particularly grateful to my father. He has definitely made an impact in helping me get to where I am today. A few years ago, we had a client in our store and my father was educating him on diamonds and helping him with the engagement ring process. This particular client walked in with very complex questions, and kept telling my dad that he wasn’t looking to buy, but rather wanted to get some research done and have a few questions answered. I remember how my father was answering these clients’ questions and the amount of confidence that he was able to instill in the client. One hour later, my father sold a gorgeous engagement ring and diamond to the client, even though the client initially kept telling my Dad that he wasn’t planning on buying that day. My father was so knowledgeable and personable that people literally wanted to buy from him. He always has had such an eclectic personality, and our clients, friends, and family always appreciate working with him and just simply being around him. I wanted to be able to give off that same impression. My Dad has been able to teach me life concepts from the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, by Dale Carnegie, and that alone has helped me take my personal life and work-life to the next level.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? 

To begin, I have been able to host a number of fundraisers for nonprofit organizations in which I raised funds for their benefit. For example, a few months back I hosted a Digging for Diamonds Event where I built a sandbox and buried diamonds and gems in 500lbs of sand. There were various colored gemstones and even a $2,000 diamond buried in all this sand, and every participant had a chance to win an exotic gemstone or a diamond. I ended up raising over $1,000 in five hours alone that was all donated to Town Clock CDC, which is a non-profit organization that provides permanent and affordable housing to victims of domestic violence. Furthermore, even just a few weeks ago, amidst of all that is going with COVID-19, I set out on a goal to fund an Easter meal for the front liners at the St. Peter’s University Hospital, while simultaneously benefiting a local restaurant. In just 10 hours alone, I was able to raise $1500 thanks to the support of my Instagram community. Being involved in a noble profession has given me the opportunity to give back to the community through many nonprofit organizations, and at the same time, serve my clients and give them the best education and service. Thus, making me a well respected professional.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson ut my life, particularly during my high school years.Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life? 

“Every challenge is an opportunity”. As a matter of fact, right now, as we are going through these unprecedented challenges with COVID-19, I have been able to discover so many opportunities that I’ve implemented that have truly been eye-openers for me. On another note, this quote, “every challenge is an opportunity”, has been very relevant for me throughout my life, particularly during my high school years.

From the time that I graduated high school, I was carrying a burden on my shoulders. A promise that I made to myself. Something that I believe changed my life for the better… It was my senior year of high school, and the big day was finally here. May 1st, 2017, I received an email from the Undergraduate Admissions at Rutgers University notifying me of the status of my application. Finally getting to hear back from the only school that I wanted to go to! I vividly remember checking my phone as I was walking to Mr. Burke’s French class and seeing something that I will truly never forget. As I opened my application and quickly checked the status update, my heart just sank into the bottom of my stomach, leaving me speechless. All I recall seeing was: “Rutgers University-New Brunswick Business School- DECLINED, Rutgers University New Brunswick Arts and Sciences School – DECLINED, Rutgers University Newark – Declined.

This moment forever changed my life because it allowed me to realize that I can’t keep living like this. I was challenged big time. “It’s time for a change,” was what I kept telling myself, and I was ready for it. I looked back down at the Rutgers Application, and I promised myself, right then and there, that I will one day be a student at the Rutgers University Business School in New Brunswick. Shortly after, I graduated high school and attended Middlesex County College where I planned on starting a new beginning. Great grades, amazing work ethic, and being my best me were all on the “To-Do” list. I attended every class, studied for every exam, and finally gave school and life 100%, all while working full-time at our family’s jewelry store. Two years later, I finished at Middlesex County College, received my associate’s degree along with a stellar 3.85 GPA, and got admitted into the Rutgers Business School. This one challenge lead me right towards the path of abundance and opportunity.

How can our readers follow you on social media? 

You can find me on Instagram under the pseudonym “jasonthegemologist” or on Facebook at “jasonthegemologist”.

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