James Echols has been working as an entrepreneur, event producer and business coach for over 25 years. Before moving to Miami, he has been a retail store owner, Vice-President of Operations for a startup Renaissance Festival, a consultant, a teacher and ran a pop culture convention. Since moving to Miami over eleven years ago, he has become very involved in the community. In July of 2008, he started the very popular community-resource website, Soul Of Miami, with his partner Annette Peikert. In January of 2009, James co-founded Life Is Art, Inc., a non-profit dedicated to creating postive change in the community with the arts and culture through events and education. Life Is Art has enjoyed considerable success, producing over 70 shows, seminars, and networkers over the past five years. Being so in touch with the community, he noticed a need for greater support for other philanthropic organizations operating in south Florida and so co-founded PhilanthroFest in April of 2012 as an annual festival promoting philanthropy and community engagement.
Who has been your most influential mentor?
I have never had a mentor. When I was a young entrepreneur, I read numerous business books and magazines. Two that I found particularly useful were “The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing” and “Inc.” magazine. I also joined a variety of professionals organizations and received quite a lot of business guidance from the more experienced members, who made a big difference.
How did you get to where you are today?
I drove. I mean, I’m not really sure where I am today. I visited Miami a few times as a tourist and liked the place, so eventually I packed up all my stuff and drove here.
How did you get to be a community leader?
Because somebody has to do it and I’m too impatient to wait for others.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I don’t have that kind of vision. I just do the best I can. We have plans to grow Soul Of Miami and Life Is Art so that we can serve the community better. I would love to see us doing so in a much larger way, in a larger community.
What about this city inspires you?
The problems. What most people call problems, I see as opportunity. Things need fixing and that means someone needs to fix them. That someone could be me. Finish these sentences:
Miami should be… An international cosmopolitan city full of opportunity.
Miami could be… One of the great cities of the world.
Miami wants to be… Miami doesn’t know what it wants to be, yet. There are a lot of amazing people shaping that future right now.
Miami needs… More self-confidence.If you love Soul Of Miami, please consider leaving a testimonial.
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