Sunny Bonnell Ashleigh Hansberger On Why Being Defiant and Different Makes You a Rare Breed

morning everybody is DJ envy Angela ye Charlemagne the guy we are the breakfast club we got some special guests in the building we have Sonny and Ashley welcome guys thank you read out right now that's right a guide to success for the Defiant dangerous and different boom what does it mean to be a rare breed well it all started with a question right so we have this idea what if you could take all the pieces of yourself that other people criticize and the things they call defiant dangerous and different in you and you figure out how to turn those things into your selling points instead of into your weaknesses so we call a rare breed someone who fully leans into who they are accepts who they are all the prickly points all the things that society or our parents or the world at large kind of tells us to continue to grind down rare breeds the people out there who are truly one-of-a-kind and owning who they are they're making the difference and they're making the dent and that's really who we wrote this book about it's this these misfits these Outsiders these people who give them a floor giving them a floor and really you know the idea that it's someone who stands out of the herd who is essentially one-of-a-kind and who is a person who is not afraid to own who they are in that way in order to succeed it was sunny and nasty for people that don't know how did you guys get together how did you start writing a book so in Ashley so well I'm obviously the one in the top hat no we grew up together so we met in our s teens and Chicago and we grew up together we went to college together and in our early 20s we've dropped out of college together to start a branding agency against all the odds we have $250 we had $250 in our bank account very small coastal South Carolina town just about an hour north of where Charlemagne grew up and we sort of launched to a sea of doubters everyone around us said you're too young you're too inexperienced or to female you're too broke to succeed in a world where sixtyish admin made the rules and so who did we think we were coming out to create a branding agency with no prior business experience but we saw an opportunity where we looked around the industry and we saw a lot of homogenized you know advertising and and at the time branding agencies weren't a big thing it was more like advertising or graphic design and we sort of came out we said what if we could teach leaders and teach organizations how to sort of find out what makes them really special and bring that to the forefront it really became the the kind of concrete idea around around motto and why we called it motto in the first place a motto is a war cry and so you know we grew it out of South Carolina moved it to Dallas and then moved it to New York so we're 15 years into business now and really rare breed has kind of a culmination of that blueprint of us being the outlier and being told that we should grind down our prickly points and you know just quiet down to just kind of not be who we actually are people try to force us into a lane and say you don't have what it takes to succeed and so we were riding rare breed for the past 15 years it just took us this maybe last year or so to really formulate and crystallize this idea around owning who you are despite all of the negativity and doubters that we all become accustomed to it was the first client the first one that actually believed that you pitched to and he said I'll give ya yeah we uh we worked with the dentist in our local area you know we were in a business community where there wasn't a lot of big businesses there were a lot of mom and pops shops you figured you'd want a place where it's huge market well right which is why we're in New York now but Sonny grew up in South Carolina I went to school in South Carolina originally so it's kind of where we started but then we did move the business to Dallas and of course now in New York City so we're working with a lot of big brands now but we started off working with those small businesses the mom-and-pop stores the dentists being the first yeah client that we have early disruptor he came to us and he said all of the dentists in the area do everything the same and I want to do something unordinary and we're like well we're your agency we're your people and we didn't even know how to price our services I'm sure we priced it way too low but he took a chance on us and it was from that moment it really set the business in motion from that one that one client we were able to sort of take that client and he spread the word and then we got another client and then it just then we started reaching like accolades and people started hearing about it did you go and pitch it to him so we did a really interesting thing we were very broke and at that point I think we were maybe probably weeks within shutting the doors of being able to really keep it keep it going and we did this really daring and brave thing where we took a garbage can back then yellow page ads were like all the rage like in and so doing like a mailing or Direct Mail was kind of a cutting edge thing to do and so we took the last little bit in our bank account and we created this die-cut garbage can and it literally you pulled the lid out and all it said was trash the ordinary with our phone number and our website address and we mailed it out to about 250 businesses and he got one of those garbage cans and he said he called us and he said who are you guys where did you come from because at the time there was only like three or four major players in our area there was only like three or four major advertising agencies that everybody knew everybody worked with who were we I mean we had an office literally in the ghetto like a 14 by 14 room in the warehouse nobody wanted to come over to our part of town and you know they've got curious I think people were like who are these two young girls working out of an office in the ghetto with you know where did you come from who are you and I think that stirred up that little bit of curiosity and it almost became the thing that became our selling points and yet correct me if I'm wrong is that you're one you're among the 0.01% of branding agency strictly owned and run by women yeah a lot of the the businesses in our field are run by men mm-hmm it's just the fact there's very few women at the top very few women executives or the sea level or even owners of companies yeah and when we started every person that hired us was a male it wasn't until maybe 2009 that we started every other call was a woman saying I've left a corporate job I'm making these fruit and veggie smoothies in my kitchen and I've you know I mean I'm talking like senior VP vice presidents of banks and people that were really really well-established abandoning stability for the dream and seeking us out to help realize that dream because they said you'll understand us and it was because of the story that we were telling we were the outlier we were the misfit we were the rare breed which is an ordinary among their kind and I think because of that people just started to come to us and we have this saying in the book that many of the same reasons that we were hired we're also the same reasons that we were fired so a lot of people would hire us thinking we're gonna get these sort of bold audacious ideas and then they would almost get a little bit nervous because we like stability we don't like discomfort we're not wired to like discomfort if anything we're scared of that and so it's very much prevalent in companies and organizations I mean we've worked with hundreds now at this point we've been in very big organizations very small organizations we've worked with leaders of all shapes and sizes people within those companies of all shapes and sizes and there's one thing that's true they you will walk them to the ledge but they will rarely take the leap and so we got a tremendous amount of pushback because of that but it's now become kind of the reason that people seek us out what do they do what did you do with the dentist that made everybody come to you that was outside the box at the dentist's office so he was really interesting we not only did we help him shape his entire space his dental space but you know back before like TVs where you would could watch Netflix at the dentist like that was not cool in 2007 like you didn't most people especially in that area didn't really do that you like watching TV in the lobby maybe Netflix like well you're getting your teeth done I don't like putting Netflix up like that was not something that any of the dentists in the area did they you walked in everything at seashells and it was coastal and no one had really created like a cutting-edge experience where everything from the moment that you walk in the doors you are having an experience with that dentist I mean especially with people being terrified of going to the dentist anyway how do you how do you disrupt the ordinary and we worked with him on thinking through everything from the way that he positioned the location to interior-wise - the way we created a signage I mean we thought through every detail with him and it was really a very big launch pad for him moving forward and then everybody wanted to sort of pivot and do what he was doing so it was just that beginning of many disruptions that we've disrupted law audiology healthcare food beverage you name it we've touched it let's talk about their everything cuz I agree with the whole concept of rare breeds but in this era like right now at this moment if you are a rare breed a few cause people discomfort if you are just rub there they want to cancel you and immediately come to mind I think a Dave Chappelle right now oh yes and especially yes I even thinkin Kanye you know earlier this year being in the White House like people don't like when you go against the grain no we're not you know stability is like a shutoff valve for the brain and we're taught by you know we're biologically like this you know we know we're taught to run from the wolves so when you break apart from the pack you are vulnerable and you can get eaten you can get devoured ooh and so I think for businesses companies even in our life in career we don't want to fall back because that means danger and it's no different than anything in this world especially our own identities which also become vulnerable as part of this you know the book is really about identity identity is our most powerful asset but it's also one of the things that's probably the most misunderstood and it's often compromised because you know the first mirror that you look into is usually your parents eyes you or it's a guardian someone who has had an influence over you their hopes their fears their aspirations for you is projected onto you at a very young age whether you realize it or not their own missteps their own failures at times they will cast that onto you because in their mind they're making up for things that they did not achieve and so we become the vessel for delivering their hopes and dreams to the world and so what happens over time is the more that that happens the more we begin to question our own voice and our voice we either become silent or we become awakened and a lot of us just stay silent forever there's a lot of us out there in the world right now walking around going to jobs that we don't like that we do not feel fulfilled we're creating anxiety your point of your book we're creating a world of anxiety where you are not allowed to be the full spectrum of who you are hmm and so rare breed is about unleashing that about tapping into the full spectrum of who we are about bringing your full self to the table so that you can let the prickly parts shine which are often your assets and not being afraid to question things exactly you have to question your identity you have to and what most people just don't take the time now what are the seven traits that a society condemns let's discuss those so at the heart of rare breed are seven so-called vices that we believe are actually virtues so we talked about rebellious audacious obsessed hot-blooded weird hypnotic and emotional now society is going to tell us that these things are cautionary tales they are completely counterintuitive to our success but we totally disagree with that which is why we have reframed them from vices into virtues and essentially giving a floor for everyone to be able to say you know what fuck it this is who I am I'm going to suffer the consequences because there are consequences yes this is not a pretty paved road these have being rebellious being you know audacious having Charlamagne me we talked to you in an interview that we did for our video series and you said it beautifully i dream'd myself off of that dirt road in Moncks Corner South Carolina and it was your audacity that allowed you to do that oh that's odd you hope like Barack Obama said well I think audacity it was your vice but it was also your virtue we talked in that interview a lot about your the duality of audacity of it being the thing that opens doors but can also close those doors they can destroy you as equally as it can uplift you and so we're proof that identity is something that you don't get it's something that you claim and there's a lot of rare breeds in the world walking around right now that don't even know there are rare breed they don't even how to activate it they may have those traits within themselves but they've never been given the permission they've never given themselves permission to say I am going to identify with myself own these things and turn them into this my superpowers essentially do you believe that everybody can make it you know how to say if you work hard and you put the effort and you put the time and now dream do you think everybody can make it no I don't bullshit yeah because I think a rare breed is a rare breed for a reason yes they're rare they're not everywhere but in some ways they are everywhere but the key difference is why everyone else is suppressing those pain-in-the-ass qualities rare breeds really lean into theirs they celebrate them they let them off the leash to vandalize tradition to run like hooligans through the corridors of entrenched power these are people who believe six impossible things before breakfast isn't just a quote from through the looking-glass it's a life plan it's a business plan and that is the difference between somebody who's a rare breed and someone who's not and there's so many of them I mean Charlemagne's a rare breed you know Jay Z's a rare breed Kendrick Lamar Rhapsody you know Lady gaga I mean all celebrities but I guarantee you there's moms and dads out there and your janitor there might be a rare breed and no one's ever said you're different you're special come as all of who you are so take a few you know you know as kids we always tell kids if you work hard you could be whatever you want to be if you train and you you know you go beyond where everybody else is going you can be this and you can be a dad so you don't necessarily agree with that I do believe that it's it's as much about hard work and tenacity so we talk in the book about obsession Kobe Bryant said it perfectly what's your 4 a.m. what are you willing to get up at 4 a.m. and go shoot hoops and do while everyone else is sleeping the truth is is you don't get anywhere without hard work it's not like you just show up and you're famous or you dream yourself out of a dirt road because you were just dreaming there's activation that has to happen as part of that so for us it really is about harnessing all of those 7 things and figuring out where to apply them in your life where to apply the right pressure you cannot be an excuse you have to be the thing that sort of driving you every day but you also have to know what you're trying to strive for and I think rare breeds kind of understand what that is you know they understand that the dream is only a dream unless you actually go and put yourself and you're willing to take the punches you're willing to take those black eyes for it we was having this a conversation on the shop on HBO the other day and now you know Rob Gronkowski was there and Kevin Love was there Rob played with Tom Brady of course Kevin Love played with LeBron James and I'm like I think there's a goat gene like I don't care how hard you work like you toot when you can be in the gym as long as LeBron you can't practice as long as them you can eat the same things he's eaten even way to say I'm Jersey you won't be him that's right yeah I just don't think you can get to certain levels well I think there's DNA right there's the the nature versus nurture thing which is I think we are born with inherent traits you know my in my family I come from a long lineage of female songwriters and storytellers I'm a guitarist I taught my niece who's also you know female taught taught her to play guitar when she was eight it it runs in the family a little bit but there's also something to be said about having the gift and not doing anything with a gift I know a lot of talented talented people who are lazy as fuck I think there's a difference between having talent and also having ethic and obsession and rebellious and hypnotism and all the things that we talk about in the book those traits need to be applied otherwise you know you you I don't think you will achieve those things no what is the Trevor Project The Trevor Project is an organization that helps suicide prevention for teens and young adults and the LGBTQ community for every order presale order of our book we gave 50 cents to The Trevor Project we're really excited to do that um it's an organization that I think is having an a great great effect on our culture in our society there's way too many people out there feeling completely hopeless around who they are and that should not be the case at all and so sometimes they're beaten and even killed for it yeah and we wanted to have this book give something back you know I mean it's it took us a long time to write it I mean we are all of the seven vices in this book you know we fought with our publisher we fought for the cover we fought for the design we fought for the subtitle we fought for everything for this thing and fought ourselves you know to try to bring it into being and it was so funny when we were writing every like how we're all we're all seven of these vices like how do we remind ourselves to turn them into virtues because there's a duality to all of these things and that's why they are vices and virtues you know but that was a big big thing that we talked about is contributing to something that we felt was making the world a better place now what is model come out of another cup yeah models are branding yeah yeah so that's what we started that we do that that's kind of our day job but we've gotten the writing bug and I think we're who were thinking about I told her the other day I like already thinking about our second book and she's like don't even just just stop right now just quit talking cuz it was a lot and you know they Frizzle well we're partners first and foremost you know but it's you know you're talking about 20-some years of knowing each other and being able to overcome a lot of adversity and you get forged in the fire because of that and so this book was part of that and certainly the journey into starting motto was test every bit of who you are because a lot of people when you here know a lot of people just hang it up and we here know and we were like how do we turn that into a yes oh yes yeah oh I mean this book was rejected 18 times we we literally went the the first version of this book got rejected by every major publisher and we set it up and we we were literally fighting ourselves and saying I don't know if we can do this you know that was a lot of that was a lot of noes and we were just surrounded in defeat and it wasn't until we have a mentor of ours who has known us since we were kids and I remember we called him up on skype and we were really feeling down and he goes he we were sky he presses his face up against the ass and he goes he goes get your ass back to that desk and start writing that book he's like that is a fucking brilliant book what are you doing like you wrote the book on audacity you wrote the book on obsession why are you giving up like this is worth being out there and we went back to the table and everyone in the publishing industry it's kind of a known thing that you don't go back with the same title that you were rejected with of course we didn't listen because we're audacious and we go back to the publishers and we submit it to the dismay of everyone around us telling your crazy it's they've all there you're gonna piss them off and we said but we believe in this so much like we believed in the title we think the title is so strong like why would we hang up the dream and and we went back and it went to a bidding war a wind y'all get y'all office not together oh we're a few years yeah we were probably in the ghetto for awhile I mean we started in a 14 by 14 room in an empty warehouse and then we probably a few years into it after we started getting you know some money and getting profitable we expanded into that warehouse and then worked out of that for a few years and then we picked up and moved to Dallas did you try to do anything to make the ghetto better while you was there yeah that was a tough area for us because we were you know it was kind of a cul-de-sac and and yeah but it was right up until down the street you know I walked one day I walked out it was like six seven o'clock at night and we were going home and I had to car two guys sitting in the front seat of my car yeah taking her getting ready to take it outside oh shit and so it was hard it was a real challenge did you go the police did you try to stall what are you doing to my car you know I kind of yeah we could have gotten shot but we literally like we were so naive we just like walked out there at the time and you know we didn't really I think we were just so young and just so bold that we literally just I walked out to the car I was like what the fuck are you guys doing and they drop the bags and ran but they could you know they could have heard us I mean we were in a really really shady part of town where we heard gunshots all the time people were getting stabbed right around the corner like why Channel uh well it was cheap okay it was all we could afford yeah no my dad had the warehouse and he rented it out to us he owned the warehouse and he was like now look if you guys are gonna give this dream ago you got to know where your what you're walking into and we were like we'll take it we'll put you little hood put put me right in the middle of the hood what he learned a lot with area like that it's still pretty hood ish it's not really I wouldn't say it's it's gotten a little bit better but you know the warehouse is still there my brother now runs it and you know it's it's still it's pretty seedy I mean I you know that's just the part of the area that we grew up in and when we moved to Dallas it was like a whole nother world where everything is it's so clean and it's so polished and and it's a really nice area so it was it was just a step in a different direction for us we wanted to challenge ourselves yeah it's been intense no doubt I mean it's you know I grew up I grew up in a very small town and to throw ourselves in the midst of what we did and how we did it is it challenges every part of who you are I test you for sure all right well we appreciate you for joining our brain Sonny and Ashley their book rare breed is out make sure you pick it up let's go get it it is yeah it is The Breakfast Club good morning [Music]