Our mission to add value to the people and businesses who call Chicagoland home begins with a new approach to community. Through our platform and podcasts we're able to feature professionals who truly represent our city's best in their business and/or personal lives.
Connect with them as they share their stories of successes, failure, hardships and triumphs. It's real, it's vulnerable and it's the dialogue needed to build meaningful relationships and communities.
episode 0060 | Andis Combi
From a small town in Albania to Chicago, Andis Combi shares his story as an Eastern European immigrant turned businessman.
Moving to Chicago from (at the time) communist Albania when he was 13 was no easy transition for Andis. Culturally, he talks about how the openness of Albanians made him very receptive to learning and understanding the culture of the U.S. However, there was still so much for him to learn and at the time, business was the furthest thing from his mind.
He went from wanting to live a life in the Criminal Justice world based on what he would see on TV to finding a true passion for technology.
Andis was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug and started taking risks and achieving success by following his passions. One of the most important things to him, though, is giving back:
“When you come from a place where you don't have anything and when you've been poor and you learn what it takes to achieve certain levels of success, it's a different satisfaction that you get when you give to people.”
For Andis is not about handouts but about giving people the opportunity to achieve whatever their dreams are.
“We just want to provide a resource or a path for someone that doesn't necessarily have that Ivy league school experience or that fatherly figure at home.”
Learn more about Andis’ story, how he marries his love of technology and real estate, and how he’s helping mentor the future generation of entrepreneurs on this episode of The Face of Chicago Business Podcast.
episode 0059 | Cory Warfield
Cory Warfield’s incredible story begins with witnessing the St. Helens volcano eruption from Oregon at the age of two. Knowing from an early age he wanted to "be a boss," he immediately told his family he didn't want to live there anymore. That brought the Warfield family to Chicago in 1980.
Traumatic life events in his teens led Cory to the streets of the West Coast where he was homeless for a few years starting at the age of 18. Over the next few years, his life was riddled with living off of scraps and run-ins with the law that eventually led to his ‘wake up’ call. After getting the crap kicked out of him, enough was enough. Working his way up from dishwasher to Sommelier over the course of a few years, Cory then went onto manage a celebrity hot-spot steakhouse in downtown Chicago.
Only five years ago he waited on his last table to start his first tech company. Since then, he has helped raise over 15 million dollars and continues to not only build up his own companies but also help others build theirs. Corey’s story is one of fierce determination and humble inspiration.
episode 0058 | Calvin Boyd
Calvin Boyd may be a Michigan native but he knew from a very young age that he was destined to move to Chicago one day. After graduating from Michigan State University with his Doctorate of Law in 2015, Calvin realized that dream and established himself as an attorney in the Chicago Legal Network. He has worked across various firms over the years eventually starting his own, Boyd Law LLC in 2017 specializing in Employment, Real Estate, and Entertainment law.
Over the past year or so, one of the most important aspects of his life has been his spiritual journey. For Calvin, that journey reflects itself in every aspect from work to family. In order to provide ethical counsel, he feels you need to be in that realm of connecting with your spirituality. In his personal life, it has brought him closer than ever to his 4-year-old son,Caleb, allowing him to be truly present and it has given him a deeper understanding of his son.
When he works with people, he leads with his multi-faceted personality. In his words, he’s not “just an attorney.” The sentiment he echoes to everyone he meets is: “Be true to yourself and the things that are meant for you will be there for you.” Throughout his years so far as an attorney, one thing that has changed the most for him is his definition of wealth. While it was once defined by how much money he could make, he now creates his wealth by the impact he makes and the legacy he’s leaving behind.
episode 0057 | Rene De Coning
After growing up in Johannesburg, South Africa, living in the UK and across the US, Rene de Coning and her family settled in Chicago. As the first one in her family to obtain a college degree, Rene is not only financially supportive but she’s the emotional, cultural, and spiritual glue that holds them all together.
From humble roots, she has dedicated her life to supporting others on their journey to live their very best life. She’s currently the President and Owner of MustardSeed Insights, Inc. putting all her years of acquired knowledge from Corporate positions to work by coaching others in life and leadership. She’s a Certified Professional Coach and works on in-depth leadership programs through a collaboration with LMI-Chicago.
Rene offers pro bono coaching for those who can’t afford it and is constantly blown away by the successes her graduates share with her after they finish her program. After her own kids graduated from school and left home, she and her husband, excited to start the next chapter as empty-nesters, moved into a beautiful 4-story townhouse while she was busy building two businesses and taking classes to get her coaching certification. Right after moving into their home, her husband suffered a devastating fall, fracturing his C2 vertebrae and was paralyzed from the waist down.
The emotional and physical challenges have been overwhelming but through their combined passion, drive, and optimism, her husband continues to improve his dexterity. And throughout it all, Rene continues to provide her utmost support to others on their journey of discovery and growth and build her business.
Rene will be the first to tell you she is blessed beyond measure.
episode 0056 | Francine Poole
Growing up in Evergreen Park, IL in the 70’s, Francine Poole’s daily life consisted of racial discrimition. She often found herself fighting boys at her school who tried to make it difficult for her to receive an education.
Flash forward to today and Francine now owns and is the CEO of a business in the same town that discriminated against her during her youth. She has her company, Empire Property Management Solutions, and is a Licensed Real Estate Broker working on opening up her own brokerage this year.
When she’s not working on either of those things, she is the Private Receiver for the City of Chicago Department of Buildings, Vitality coach for Women Entrepreneurs on Social Media, and is the Chairperson and Founder of the Non Profit, The Giving Hands Organization Inc. The latter helps women with workforce readiness, resume preparation, and clothes for job interviews . That doesn’t include the laundry list of certifications she holds and her recent appointment as a West Pullman neighborhood representative of the Chicago Association of REALTORS®’ Diversity committee, “the 77.”
After going through a lifetime of her own struggles and obstacles, through everything she does, Francine wants to help others with their plans in entrepreneurship.
episode 0055 | Joy Decker
Being raised by parents who gave back to their congregation and community, Joy Decker was destined for a life of service. In high school, she volunteered for a service project helping children with significant disabilities that Joy credits as having a significant impact into where she is in her career, working with people with disabilities.
Early in her career, Joy worked on bringing awareness to the mission that individuals with disabilities are people, first and foremost. Finding early that most were unfamiliar with or maybe even scared of others with disabilities, Joy says it’s still one of her greatest obstacles to overcome today. Her goal is to change the hearts of those in our community towards opportunities working with the kids, or volunteering on service days, that truly change the lives of those they’re helping.
After working with other agencies throughout her career Joy was looking for a new challenge. What drew her to Esperanza was the sense of family she got from everyone there. Esperanza has since added additional services and now serves adults in their adult day program. They continue their learning, independent living skills, and offer vocational training. In addition, they work with artists with disabilities to curate their art at different exhibitions. Whatever art is sold goes directly to the artists themselves. It’s also been a great way for Esperanza to connect with the community and introduce them to the services they provide.
"Esperanza Community Services began as a school in 1969, created in response to the lack of services available to students whose learning needs were not being met in traditional classrooms. Our founder, Guadalupe Reyes, was driven to help her son Bobby, whose developmental disabilities were caused by spinal meningitis. Guadalupe Reyes made Esperanza School a place where students with developmental disabilities found a solid foundation of education, support, and encouragement upon which they could grow."
Esperanza’s annual gala, scheduled for May 10, 2021 will once again be virtual, but extending to a week-long celebration that includes raffling off a new Peloton. Registration is now open.
This podcast sheds an amazing light in Chicago, and the business people that it consists of. I love the wide range of topics that are touched on.
Very informative and well put
Very well put podcast, and informative for the Chicago audience and the people making a difference!
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There’s nothing wrong with getting a little uncomfortable in order to elevate. Tony has helped me more than he can even understand! The podcast actually helped me feel more confident and allowed me to really see myself personally outside of being an entrepreneur. If you’re considering this podcast., join the mission! You will be so happy you did!!!