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Leadership Series: Interview with Entrepreneur/Artist Asaf Fulks

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What inspired you to start your current business?

I always loved music but never thought it would be my profession. I discovered my passion for creating music during my freshman year at Denison University. My roommate and I downloaded a free trial version of Fruityloops and began making beats. Soon, it was about all we did! The process of producing and engineering was fascinating and gave me an emotional outlet. While I graduated with a degree in Computer Science, I spent most of my time on campus recording and producing for artists from the Columbus, Ohio area in my dorm room closet. People loved what I did. It was then that I knew I would turn it into a career.

After graduation, I moved to Hollywood and worked for a book publisher in Orange County. The job taught me what it takes to run a business. The owner had a vacant office space which he generously allowed me to turn into a recording studio. With minimal gear, I opened up shop. Back then, there were very few recording studios in the area and I was able to attract many clients. Over time, I perfected my skills, invested in better equipment and created the world-renowned recording studio it is today. September 2020 marks 15 years since I started the business.

What is the story that inspired the name of the company?

I chose the name “The OC Recording Company” to capitalize on my location. At the time, LA was the recording capital and I wanted to be established as the main source in Orange County. It worked well because search engines placed me towards the top of search queries. Since then, I’ve built a worldwide reputation and have clients from all around the globe.

How has being an entrepreneur affected your life?

Being a successful entrepreneur means living and breathing your business. It is a 24/7/365 commitment. It’s not just the work I’ve put in with clients, but all the time behind the scenes: thinking, planning, purchasing, wiring, promoting, meeting, cleaning, accounting, etc. I wear every hat in this business. It takes lots of thought and energy…there’s no way around it.

What motivates you?

Learning new things and helping others bring their ideas and projects to life give me great satisfaction. I enjoy going beyond my comfort zone and experimenting with new concepts and equipment. My Mom, Yakira Shimoni Fulks, who is an artist and my creative partner is an inspiration to me. Her enthusiasm and encouragement is contagious and motivating. We always come up with exciting new projects. I am grateful to be able make the world better and brighter.

How do you generate new ideas?

An open mind, breaking old thinking patterns and being open to different viewpoints is essential for the flow of new ideas. In a musical sense, staying in my zone, being able to let my emotions flow, trial and error and having fun trying out new techniques are great ways for unexpected ideas to pop in. In a business sense, researching the successes and shortcomings of other professionals give me fresh prospective. Once I understand what has worked for them, I can bend the rules and create new concepts. I also work on several different projects simultaneously to stay energized. That way I don’t get stuck in a rut. For example, while producing music and working with clients, I wrote an audio engineering and music production textbook IN THE STUDIO with ASAF FULKS which led to the creation of my audio engineering school. Changing my environment is also helpful. I enjoy taking trips around California or walking around the beautiful beaches and parks in Orange County to stimulate my mind.

What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?

Greatest fear… fear of flying! Once on a flight to California for summer break the plane was struck by lightning. I screamed louder than anyone, the sense of helplessness and being completely out of control was very scary. But mostly, I try to keep fear in the rear view. I believe that our thoughts and what we focus on create our reality, so I focus on things that empower me. I believe and trust that there is a divine plan to keep me safe.

What are your ideals?

I was raised in a conservative Jewish home and my ideals are in line with the teachings of the Torah. “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” These are important principles about one’s responsibility to self and to community. The Talmud also teaches that the highest form of wisdom is kindness. We live in a diverse society but ultimately, we are all people, rich or poor, black or white, we all thrive on caring and compassion. Sometimes we think that we need to do big things to change the world, but a good word, a friendly smile, a helping hand can uplift the spirit and help others overcome their difficulties. As Rabbi Akiva said: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” That’s the golden rule. Do to others as you wish done to you. Think before you speak and know that words have power to hurt or heal. These are important rules for life.

How do you define success?

Today we live in a hyper society that measures success in wealth and fame. But those things tend to create anxiety and a sense of inadequacy. To be successful is to have a happy contented heart. To live the days fully with purpose and gratitude. Don’t compare yourself to others, be proud of who you are. We all have different missions to accomplish in this world. The Talmud says: Who is rich? The one who is satisfied with his lot”. That’s not to say that you can sit on your laurels. Be proactive and take pleasure in your smallest achievements. Do your best each day and thrive to do better tomorrow.

Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?

I don’t think there is a formula to achieve a successful outcome as there are too many variables in life. But there are some fundamental principles one must follow: know that the buck stops with you. You have to be the leader and the janitor. Be a starter and a finisher. Be motivated and a motivator. Be persistent but have professional integrity. Don’t get discouraged when things get tough and put in all you got every single day. If you do all that you’ll be a success no matter the outcome.

What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

Being my own boss. Setting my own schedule. Putting my effort into a business that I own. Believing that any day the business could expand into something much greater. Some people like the structure and reliability of a nine to five job. Not me. When I worked for other people I felt stifled. Being an entrepreneur is a freeing existence, but with it comes much more responsibility and self-discipline.

What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

Wow, so many amazing moments! Looking back at photos and records from the past fifteen years realizing where I started and where I am now, and all the lives that I have positively impacted in the process is both satisfying and humbling. So many proud memories: hearing my music on movies and TV shows, The LA Clippers choosing my song as their theme song, Moe Rock going Gold, My Hero performing my song at the Capital One Bowl, receiving my patent, being named Nowhiphop.com Producer of the Year, watching my students become successful artists/engineers/producers, and seeing how my studio evolved from a humble office space to a world class studio! Boy, that was a lot of work— I am thrilled I did it!

What do you wish this company to accomplish within the next year?

Next year, 2021 I’ll finish law school and plan to incorporate legal services into The OC Recording Company. I am also deeply passionate about photography and videography. I’ve made a substantial investment into new gear and plan to include this type of work into the business as well. I wear many hats. I’ll be the guy that will write, produce and engineer your song. Shoot and edit your video. Take your photos, design your album, and create your website. Then, get your copyrights, handle your contracts, and negotiate your record deals. Talk about a one stop shop!

What do you wish this company will accomplish within the next five years?

We’ve been on the forefront of remote music production. There is a huge market worldwide for this especially during a pandemic since people can’t go into the studio. Within five years we can develop this further to reach a bigger customer base, incorporating our school and future legal services in the mix. In addition, we will continue to build our YouTube channels, Spotify catalog, and Hiphopbeatz.com instrumental site.

What does proper leadership look like to you, what is an example of leadership you have seen that is not proper?

A proper leader motivates others by example. In my teaching experience, I have found that students love starting projects but have difficulty finishing. One of the most important concepts I stress to my students is to be a finisher. Often it takes 5% of the time to get 95% through a project and the last 5% takes 95% of the time. But it was not enough to just tell them…I showed them what is possible. In the past three years, while enrolled in Law School and running my business, I completed three solo albums (which I wrote, preformed, composed, produced, engineered and designed) and published over 100 original videos on our YouTube channel. Unfortunately, there are many examples of those who ‘made it’ but have become too arrogant with their success and have mistreated their associates. Disrespecting others is a house of cards—eventually it all fall down. If a leader talks the talk, he needs to walk the walk.

For the aspiring entrepreneur reading this what advice will you give?

I didn’t just jump into being an entrepreneur. I worked a steady job, saved money so that I could comfortably make the switch. As they say, luck is when opportunity meets preparation. If you have a dream to start your own business, first prepare. Learn the craft, set the foundation, study what made others successful. A practical piece of advice is to try not to go into debt. I never took a loan or bought anything I did could not afford. Don’t be afraid to start small and don’t live beyond your means. Having piece of mind is worth more than any material possession. Dream BIG. Be You. Have integrity. Be consistent. Finish.

What final words do you have for all of the supporters?

To my OC fam…a heartfelt thank you for your support over the past 15 years, couldn’t have done it without you! Here is to our continued success. Keep the music playin’!

For more information visit: https://ocrecording.com and follow Asaf on all social media platforms @ocrecording

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