September Rule Your Nation Awards

Hello and welcome to September’s Rule Your Nation Awards! This month features people who live their lives to the fullest in sports, fitness, business, non-profit work, and trial advocacy. These leaders need no further introduction. Let’s get started.

Gary Little


Tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up, go to school, etc.?

My name is Gary Little. I am a 27-year-old Jamaican-American from Stratford, Connecticut. I attended St. James Elementary School until attending Bunnell High School. I concluded my scholastic career at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut with a B.A. in New Media. Today, I live in New York City.


Were you an athlete growing up, and did you ever dream of going pro?

Yes, I played baseball until 6th grade and basketball until the end of high school. I most definitely dreamed of becoming an NBA Athlete. I often still have dreams of high school and college sports.

GaryLittleRuleYourNation2That leads to the all-encompassing question. Who was your favorite childhood NBA player?



What do you do now?

Recently, I was appointed President of a soon-to-be-launched media company called FameStream Media. We connect celebrities and athletes to brands through our propriety content amplification software. This is an incubation situation deriving from my old company The Circle LLC. An Athlete Angel Network called The STAR Angel Network is going through a complete re-branding stage which included the incubation of my company and the launch of a financially backed media company.


What do you love the most about what you do?

I have always been inspired by the thought of being my own boss. After years of risks and failures, I am finally in the position to call the shots and control my own destiny with a controlled revenue stream. Most importantly, I love being innovative. Digital Marketing has allowed me to do that.


Is there anything that motivates you the most to get up and pursue your goals?

Becoming a young successful Black man has been the baseline of my motivation. My parents were my role models. I was extremely fortunate to have them as parents. They taught me such incredible values and instilled in me the true meaning of purpose. Recently, my fire was fueled by the passing of my long-time business partner and best friend(Ed: Rest in Peace Kevin Shaw). That occurrence has transformed my motivation to defy the odds then use the plateau to help make a serious change.


When you think of the phrase “Rule Your Nation,” what comes to mind?

To me that phrase means to identify what you feel is your nation then lead by example. I believe my nation is Black Culture. I strongly feel as if Black Culture dictates our society as a whole. Unfortunately, we are on the losing end. We are too engulfed in the role of the consumer and not in the mindset of the self-starter or hard worker. We are plagued by the thought of not getting enough chances and being treated unfairly. I believe it is a lack of leadership from the true Black influencers. If our athletes, entertainers and moguls spoke up to this subject then I feel this will be the start to our advancement.

So in order for me to “Rule My Nation,” I must use this opportunity to become a mogul then speak up once I am on that grand stage.

Note To Grant Miller:

I would like to thank Grant Miller for extending this opportunity to me. I am truly honored! This was a stimulating activity that helped me consolidate my thoughts and organize my next moves. I wish him the best of luck and continued success.

Conner Rensch


So what’s your story? Where and how did you grow up?

My name is Conner Rensch. I am from Omaha, Nebraska, and I am 26 years old. I grew up in a family of 5 children. I was the second oldest. I grew up in a very loving household, but I grew up very overweight.
Were you an athlete as a kid, and did you ever dream of being an athlete?
I was athletic as a kid, and my parents had me in all sports, but I struggled because I was so overweight.
I understand that you lost quite a bit of that weight. How much did you lose, how did you lose it, and how do maintain your level of fitness now?
I lost 130 pounds. I lost it the old-fashioned way, diet and exercise. I maintain and improve my body now by educating myself on the fuel my body needs for my lifestyle. I lift weights and follow a macronutrient meal plan.
So what do you do now?
I am now a hair stylist and motivational speaker in Omaha, Nebraska.
What do you love the most about what you do?
I love that I get to make people feel good about themselves on a daily basis. Whether I am speaking or hair styling, I feel I get to make people feel good from the inside out.
If you could give your past self any word of advice, what would it be?
If I could give my past self advice it would be to not let other people dictate your happiness so much. Be who you are, and don’t worry about the people who know nothing about you.
If there is anything about you now that has changed the most, what is it?
My self esteem has definitely changed the most. Being so overweight, I was really hard on myself. When I decided to take control of myself and start loving myself from the inside out is when I made a change emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
What motivates you the most to get up and pursue your goals?
The thing that motivates me the most is being a good role model for others. There is nothing that brings me more happiness than helping people succeed at their dreams.
When you think of the phrase “Rule Your Nation,” what comes to mind?
 When I hear “Rule your Nation”, I think of taking control of this generation in a positive light and using your influence, whether big or small, for good.

Shawn Mobilio


 Where did you grow up, go to school, etc.?

I grew up in Bridgeport, Connecticut and moved to Naugatuck when I was 10 years old.  I always had a passion for basketball. I have two amazing brothers who are so competitive it’s crazy! We were always active our whole life, and competing daily whether it was playing basketball or lip singing in the car. I attended Naugy (Ed: Naugatuck High School for the non-Greyhounds)until my sophomore year, and then moved to Seymour.


Were you an athlete growing up, and did you ever dream of being a professional athlete? If so, in which sport?

I played basketball, football, track, and boxing on the side.  At Southern Connecticut State University I walked on to the basketball team, but my GPA fell and I wasn’t cleared by the clearing house. I got my GPA back up and the coach got fired. I was knocked down but not knocked out! I went to Western Connecticut State University my junior and senior year, and when I played there I was top three in assists in the LEC and the team captain.  I tried out for the USA Select; a tour team in North Carolina and was top 38 out of 500 players who were mostly D1 and D2 athletes. I was one of the few D3 players there! I traveled to London, Ireland, Scotland, and Whales while playing against professional teams! I didn’t get picked up, and I had to return a month later. It was tough, but I wasn’t knocked down. It was just another hump in the road.  I was going to go back and tour again. I was the captain of the team, and we don’t give up!


What do you do now?

I started training people out of L.A. Fitness. Then I took a leap of faith and opened my own spot with only two people and an entrepreneur mindset. I built my business to twenty clients. Now [it’s been]open a year and seven months. USA Select called me in September to go back, but I couldn’t leave my business. I love working with people and changing lives. I’m not just a trainer.  I motivate people to stay alive and let them go for their dreams. I saw what was out there, but I love people. I love seeing them do things people said they can’t!

ShawnMobilioRuleYourNation7If you had to choose what you’re doing now or going pro as a basketball player or a boxer, which would you choose and why?

I would choose what I am doing now because I love my job.  I love the grind. It’s still challenging, but I earned my success. No one gave it to me. I started with nothing, and I appreciate the grind.


Is there anything that motivates you the most to get up and pursue your goals?

I’ve heard my whole life that I can’t. So now I show people you can. God gives me fire to get up everyday and help as many people I can to do what they want! So I thank God, family, friends, and all the haters who said I can’t! I tell them now, “Watch me do it!”

I didn’t have a room at school. I slept in my car, and in the Winter I slept in the gym. My coach at Western  told me I would never play in Europe.  So I woke up every morning at 5 a.m. before the custodians would come in, and I would shoot a thousand jump shots, do my ball-handling, shower, get to class, eat lunch, back to practice, shower, study, do it again. People see success, but they don’t know what happens behind closed doors; the many nights not going to parties and drinking but shooting late at night, running, lifting, swimming.

The custodians knew who I was and always said to me “Why aren’t you out partying?”

I replied, “I have a vision. I’m going to play in Europe.”

They believed me and let me use the facilities.  I also have a great mentor in Dan Bolton who pushed me to do what I’m doing. Josh Ruccio as well was my coach, and he passed away.  My college coaches wouldn’t even call me or attend my graduation. It’s sad but you need to be mentally strong. In time if I coach, I want to change that.

When you hear or read the phrase “Rule Your Nation,” what comes to mind?

“Rule Your Nation” means I rule the fitness world not just physically but mentally. You want something, go get it and stop talking about it. At 4 a.m. I’m up because I can’t sleep knowing someone else is up working hard. My work ethic will beat anyone. Got to have heart!

Molly Clayton


What is your background? Where did you grow up, go to school, etc.?

I grew up in Seymour, Connecticut, a small town in New Haven County. Then I moved to Boston to attend Boston College and Boston College Law School. I live in Charlestown now, a small neighborhood in Boston, and I absolutely love it here. I don’t think I’ll ever leave, but, I still go home to Seymour really often. I’m still best friends with all of my friends from high school!


It’s my understanding that you were quite the volleyball player in high school. When did you pick that up, and how far did you plan on taking it?

I loved volleyball in high school! I started playing my freshman year and took to it pretty easily since I’m 6 feet tall. I thought about playing in college, but I was actually better at track and field. I was getting recruited to better colleges academically for track than I was for volleyball, so that really made my decision for me. I high-jumped for two years at Boston College and then gave it up to focus on my double major.


What do you do now and what is a typical day like for you?

I’m currently a corporate lawyer. I actually just recently switched law firms and am excited about my new position. I practice labor and employment litigation; basically all of the crazy things that can happen at work, we get to deal with. It’s different every day, and I love that. Litigation can be fast-paced and crazy at times, but that’s what keeps me excited!

On a typical day, I wake up around 5 a.m. and take the bus to the gym or go on a run. I need to workout, even though it means waking up unfathomably early, because it’s my only me time in my day.  I need that! I get to work around 8 a.m. and then deal with the craziness of the day as it comes!


What do you love the most about what you do?

When I’m working on a big case, it can get super busy and everything moves really quickly, and that makes it so exciting! I also recently had my first trial, and preparing for that was so much fun. It was a ton of work, but then you get to watch as all of your hard work unfolds in the courtroom and there’s nothing better than that. I can’t wait until I’m the attorney leading the charge in the courtroom!


Which is your favorite: opening, direct, cross, or close and why?

Well, I haven’t had the opportunity to conduct any of those in a trial in a courtroom, but I recently had a hearing before an administrative body and got to conduct direct and cross examinations. I think cross is fun because you really have to think on your feet, but that also makes it scary! I’m still wondering if these things will ever start to feel less nerve-racking.


Is there anything that motivates you the most to get up and pursue your goals?

For me, it’s always been about getting to the next step and proving to myself that you really can do anything you set your sight on. I like to set what seem to be unrealistic goals and try to reach them – both professionally and personally. I work on them one day at a time, and then a year later you realize how much you’ve achieved; whether it’s a promotion, more responsibility at work, or running your fastest half marathon. That’s a great feeling.

MollyClaytonRuleYourNation3When you think of the phrase “Rule Your Nation,” what comes to mind?

For me, the phrase “Rule Your Notation” evokes the feeling that we are the generation that can make changes. It means stepping up, getting involved in your community, and being a leader. It’s a pretty great ideal to live by, as it reminds you that you can always be doing more! I’m excited to see where you go with this, Grant!

Ken Fletcher


Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up, go to school, etc.?

I have lived my entire life in Chicago. I went to Stone Elementary School, Senn High School, the University of Illinois, and Chicago-Kent College of Law. I taught grammar school from 1969 to 1973. I was a Cook County Public Defender from 1976 to 2007 with 4 years in private practice during the mid-eighties. In 2007, I was appointed to the Circuit Court of Cook County. I retired at the end of 2012. I have returned part-time to the private practice of law.


Were you an athlete growing up, and did you ever want to pursue it professionally?

I had 13 amateur boxing matches. I won the first 12. I was moved up to the next division and promptly got knocked out. I had no desire to continue as an amateur let alone turn pro!


 What do you do now?

Criminal defense.


 I understand that boxing is one of your favorite sports. In what ways have you stayed involved in the Chicago boxing scene?

I was a ring announcer for professional and amateur shows for 24 years. I announced bouts for former champions James “Lights Out” Toney and Sugar Shane Mosley. I did shows on ESPN and Showtime. I had to give it up when I became a judge, but I served on the board of directors for Chicago Golden Gloves. I currently announce a couple of amateur bouts a year.


What do you love the most about what you do?

The opportunity to pursue the Constitutional mandate to put the State to its burden of proof. This is what distinguishes our system from all others.


Is there anything that motivates you the most to get up and pursue your goals?

I still love trying cases and helping my clients to obtain the best possible result under their individual circumstances.


The legal profession can be pretty overwhelming. How do you maintain the right work life balance between making a living, taking care of yourself, and pursuing your passion?

Actually, balance is no problem for me. I am semi-retired, so I only take the cases I want. I take off up to three days a week.


 When you think of the phrase “Rule Your Nation,” what comes to mind?

Fulfilling the Constitutional mandate.

Tiffany Gaston


 Where did you grow up, go to school, etc.?
I grew up in South Florida and moved to Arizona at the age of 21, which is also the same year I got married. I’ve also lived in Atlanta, which I definitely love. I have three children ages 6, 11 and 13. They are all so different and unique and I love watching them blossom into their own little people!
Were you an athlete growing up and did you dream of becoming a professional?
I have always been an athlete. Since I could walk, I was running, climbing trees and jumping all over the place. I was a definite tomboy! I was a competitive gymnast from an early age and went on to run track and cross-country in high school. I developed a love for weight training at the age of 16 when the boys wrestling coach suggested I take his class. Learning proper form and technique was just the beginning, I was hooked and went on to compete in fitness and figure on and off over the years.
I understand that you are involved in some non-profit work. What, along with that, do you do now?
Yes, I am on the board for the Johnjay and Rich Care for Kids Foundation. We raise awareness and funds to benefit children in foster care, for which there are over 17,000 in Arizona alone. When the opportunity presented itself, I felt very passionate about participating in a charity that benefits children, especially those who did not choose this path for their lives. I am also a freelance health and fitness writer and regularly contribute to publications all over the world along with currently writing my first book slated to be published by early next year.  You may have seen me in some of the very same fitness magazines I write for as a fitness model, having landing four magazine covers over the past couple of years. Ultimately, however, my greatest “job” is that of a wife and mother to three incredible and incredibly busy kids. It’s a definite juggling act most days, but it’s a labor of love!
What do you love the most about what you do?
I most love that I would be doing the things I do regardless if I was sharing it with the world or social media. It’s part of who I am and what makes me tick. Motivating others by sharing my own personal journey is the best part of it all. Helping people expect more out of their own lives and health is something that makes me feel good.
 Is there anything that motivates you the most to get up and pursue your goals?
I am motivated by challenging myself daily. It’s a passion I’ve had since I was young. If I don’t have goals than I feel stagnant and unproductive and nothing drives this Type-A personality more insane than that! Whether it’s health and fitness related, or in a completely different aspect of my life, goal setting is the key for me.
When you think of the phrase “Rule Your Nation,” what comes to mind?
To me, “Rule your Nation” implies a mindset that you can overcome anything you set out to achieve.

Paul Lee Banasiak


Tell us about yourself. Where did you grew up, go to school, etc.?

I grew up in a small farm town in Poland. My mother and I came to the States a week after 9/11 happened and before I turned 8-years-old. We have been living in Connecticut ever since. I graduated both high school and college in Connecticut as a Health and Exercise Science major. I grew up with a very strong woman by my side, and although she isn’t a fan of boxing or Muay Thai, she shaped her son into the man I am today in and out of the ring.


Were you an athletic kid growing up, and did it ever cross your mind to go pro?

In “real sports”? Not so much. I always liked to do something that wasn’t mainstream. I dabbled in football and soccer but was nothing more than average if that. However, I did enjoy extreme sports like snowboarding and skateboarding which I did for over 10 years before my body felt like it was beginning to fall apart. I never imagined myself as a professional athlete. I never lived the life of an athlete until I came across Muay Thai. A run at the professional ranks is soon to come, but the world of Muay Thai is very cut throat, and you have to be ready to face the best of the best after only a few fights. I have been offered many opportunities to turn professional, but I know patience will add to the longevity of my career. I have to play it smart and there has to be no one left for me to fight.


 August Rule Your Nation Award winner, and your girlfriend, Samantha Abrams, mentioned you as one of the reasons she started practicing Muay Thai. Where and how did Muay Thai find you?

I used to box with my friends in the backyard and always looked up to combat athletes. It never crossed my mind to actually compete, but after some time I became interested in defending myself. That turned into training in a rundown garage with some amateur and underground fighters, and eventually led me to different MMA gyms. I could never make a connection with grappling. I had too much love for the extreme nature of striking. That excitement was peaceful at the same time. Many people view Jiu Jitsu as a chess game, but striking is like meditation for me. There is no other time where I feel so present and comfortable.


Having my first fight turned into wanting my first knockout; my first knockout win turned into wanting my first title; my first title led to a need to fight in a big show like MSG; and fighting at Madison Square Garden led me to want to become the best semi-pro on the East coast before turning professional. A journey which I am currently following.


What motivates you the most to keep fighting?

The never-ending journey. The titles and wins are great and all, but rarely do they translate into other facets of my life. The journey throughout each training camp, the relationships I have created because of the sport, as well as the person I have become are the biggest reasons for me to keep on grinding. The unquenchable thirst to make the next big step and to become a better version of myself plays a key role as well. Every time I think I have accomplished something, I already have my eyes set on what is next. The possibilities you begin to entertain once you accomplish the impossible become possible.  Now that’s motivation.


If you could name any part of fight training that challenges you the most, what is it and why?

Balance. I have a hard time dipping my toes in the water. I’m either dry, or I’m diving straight into the deep end. Now when you want to be a top-ranked fighter, the best trainer in the area, work a second job, get high honors in school, and be the best man you could be to your lady, balance is nearly impossible. I have made some hard decisions to keep everything going, including giving up on a social life, but the things I listed above are my utmost priorities. Anything extra is a bonus, and at the end of the day I feel like I am living life to the fullest from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. That 8 hours of sleep is important!


Do you have any advice for any future Muay Thai champions reading this?

Do it only if you really love it. Becoming a champion is only a byproduct of the journey you will encounter. So just enjoy the ride. Take in as much as you can, keep an open mind, and then pass it on. Maybe coaching is not your forté , but pass on the lessons you learned to your family members and friends. This includes being humble, standing your ground, and biting down on your mouth piece when life is throwing hard shots at you.


When you hear or read the phrase “Rule Your Nation,” what comes to mind?

What “Rule Your Nation” means to me is having the courage to constantly live life by testing its limits; being the dictator of your own path. Your nation is the people you surround yourself with and the life you have chosen for yourself. We may be born into wealth or hardship, but with each situation we have a chance to make it ours and rule our own little nation.

Baendu Lowenthal


Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up, go to school, etc.?

My name is Baendu Fiema Lowenthal, aka “Be”.I was born in Baltimore, Maryland and moved to Riverside, New Jersey, away from my father, at the age of 9 so my mother could care for my senile great-aunt. The unwarranted shift from a gifted child in the Baltimore City Public school system to a “special ed” child in the Riverside Suburban Public school system took a toll on my self-esteem. At such a young age it was a huge shock mentally, physically and spiritually, but I learned about a million experiences later not to give two thoughts to the labels society requires us to check, and ultimately, the low self-esteem and depression I dealt with never stopped the source desire to experience this world. Because of that desire I have been blessed with a free undergraduate and graduate education and the opportunity to live in and visit several countries. The most rewarding experiences for me have been the mutual exchange of skills, talents and knowledge with kids through the camps I run with my P.I.C. (Partner In Creativity), Sabra Wrice. Overall, I am enjoying my life because that is what we are here to do. Be at peace in the good and bad, and then move on to the next! 


Were you an athlete growing up, and did you ever want to pursue it professionally?

Yes, I was an athlete growing up. I spent much of my younger years involved in African dance, Shorin-ryu karate, soccer, basketball, and – let us not forget – the lost past time of playing outside. The thought of playing professional basketball only crossed my mind after an agent sat down with me during my senior year of college. I ended up playing professionally in the Dominican Republic, Spain, Germany, the Czech Republic and now the United Kingdom.


What do you do now?

I am still playing professional basketball, but I have decided to also take a route that will present more opportunities for the people around me and myself by pursuing a graduate degree at Sheffield Hallam University. During the off-season, I prepare for my next move. For instance, this past summer,  the other founders of Love is My Religion and I worked on the blueprint for how we plan to help the community, beginning in the summer of 2016.


What’s the hardest aspect of your current profession?

The hardest aspect of my current profession is maintaining balance. I started out balanced because I was playing basketball for the joy it brought me, but as the years went on, and when I got into the professional arena, the love for the game was overshadowed by my ego going after money. I was giving life to material items and in return was stunting my growth, which ended up stunting my joy. Currently, I am in the process of creating a balance and restoring my joy through playing professional basketball and taking graduate courses. The team here in the United Kingdom is the ideal place for me right now.


What do you love the most about what you do?

I love the possibilities. Basketball has and continues to take me around the world. My travels always present me with new opportunities to connect with new people and environments.


Is there anything that motivates you the most to get up and pursue your goals?

Being in a positive state of mind pushes me to pursue my goals. Whether we realize it or not, energy goes and flows through everything, including thoughts and actions. There is positive energy and negative energy, and I always reflect on my experiences to gain an understanding of what kind of actions and thoughts led to positive or negative energies and outcomes in my life. In all traumatic situations in my past, the energy was so negative that it knocked me into a place of neutrality. I was stuck in a state of observation and reflection, and it took help from a positive outside source, like someone who loves and cares for you, to get back to a place of peace. I now realize that I need to be in a state of peace, especially when there is madness going on around me. The late great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”  So even though it is not always easy, I do my best to stay in light form by speaking positive words into others because hate does not heal.


If you have any advice for someone who wants to live the life you’re living now, what would it be?

Commit to giving time and energy into crafting whatever it is you are passionate about and enjoy the ride just like with me. I found joy in playing basketball, exerted the necessary energy, and spent the necessary time to acquire the skills that would make it possible for me to do it until I felt the need to shift to something new. Just keep moving, and if you feel yourself becoming stagnant, move. Whether it be through a book, mentally or physically relocating to a different space, or changing your perspective on your current situation, just move! Forward progress and raising human consciousness is the goal.


When you think of the phrase “Rule Your Nation,” what comes to mind?

To me the phrase “Rule Your Nation” means to be mindful of what you think and express to yourself and the rest of the world. Too often we give our power and control up to outside entities that do not have the human race’s advancement as priority number one. We give power to the mentality of “I am going to get mine and forget the rest.” As the present day shows, the human race cannot survive that way any longer, and we must reclaim our power by ruling our nation.

There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Inspiring people live all around us.  All you have to do is ask, and they will tell their story. Thanks again for reading. Until next time.

Rule well, my friends.

No Apologies,

G. Miller

One Comment Add yours

  1. Elene Crosby (grandmother) says:

    You are an excellent writer! Keep perusing your work and what you want to do!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s