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Schone Malliet of National Winter Activity Center. (Courtesy of Schone Maillet)

There are many barriers that can ultimately block your journey of success.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz was turned down by 217 of the 242 investors he initially talked to, while Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos made multiple attempts at innovations that initially missed the mark when creating his now globally-known company. This may be an intimidating fact to any entrepreneur, but you cannot allow barriers to deter you from forging your career path. I know that first hand all too well.

Limitations only exist when you stop believing in what you are meant to do. Having faith and setting goals are paramount to one’s success. When you hear the phrase “anything is possible,” you have to be open to that concept and have faith in it.

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Many would never realize the trials and tribulations Oprah Winfrey faced early in life because of her evident success today. No one focuses on Albert Einsteins childhood, which included a boy who could not speak until age four or read until age seven. Einstein did not surrender to the barriers placed in his life and neither should you.

There is a phrase that I have come to know as my truth: “I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to.” I grew up in the projects of the South Bronx, attended the College of the Holy Cross, joined the U.S. Marine Corps to become one of only three trained Black pilots at the time, obtained an MBA and have held multiple reputable positions, including CEO. I never thought I wasn’t where I was supposed to be. This is because I never let something overwhelm me; I lived in the moment and, when I hit a barrier, I worked my way through it.

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Never think you can’t do something. With that mindset, I would have never been able to pursue my passion for running a business that makes a difference in people’s lives. As the CEO and creator of the National Winter Activity Center, the nation’s first nonprofit facility dedicated to improving the lives, health and fitness of youth by providing access to winter activities, I am fulfilling my life’s mission. I feel a responsibility to educate others about how they can live the same reality.

By no means am I saying it was easy in any way, but I have learned some things about my journey throughout the years and want to pass them on to young entrepreneurs. I understand there may be barrier that become obstacle in your way, but if you do these three things, I believe you can forge your path to success.

Remain Focused

Throughout your journey of life, be mindful of your mission as it will guide you in your process. Embrace the intersections and experiences that you have and reflect on key learnings that you gain from each of them.

I don’t always get something right the first time around, but I do get it right on the second try! Einstein obviously grew more determined with every dead end of an equation he faced. Oprah never changed who she was when she became a TV anchor; she was simply mindful of her path, despite several setbacks she faced from an early age. Thinking of each insight as a piece of a larger puzzle can help you achieve something minor or something major and inevitably help you to reach success.

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Secure Support from Others

Surround yourself with people who can help you succeed.

As a Marine, we lived by the motto, “a shared mission and teamwork helps provide the same sense of purpose.” While there is so much you can do by yourself, you can accomplish even greater achievements with the support from others who believe in the common cause and purpose of your vision.

Adjust Your Expectations

We all need to have a focused mindset and concerted effort when pursuing a goal, while managing expectations along the way. There will be many challenges to face at each crossroad. Learn to adjust your plan with direction and input from those you trust. Move forward with positive focus and energy. Don’t perceive setbacks as a negative, but as opportunities to readjust your process.

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Take it from me, barriers will come up when you least expect them to and you will likely need to jump over several hurdles to get to where you want to be. That’s life, but I want you to know that you are not limited in our options if you work to pursue what you love.

My hope is that I can offer opportunities to our nation’s youth that will open their eyes to their own personal mission in life. I want everyone to realize that barriers are only temporary. Once you break them down, the success of doing so is life-changing.


Schone Malliet, is a former Marine captain and pilot and is now the CEO of the National Winter Activity Center, located in Vernon, NJ, as the nation’s first 501(c)(3) nonprofit facility/ outdoor winter environment dedicated to improving the lives of youth through winter activity.