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Inspiring Conversations with Alexander Fakeri of MOJO Creative Digital

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alexander Fakeri.

Hi Alexander, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I learned very early on that if I wanted anything, I  would have to work for it. My parents were divorced, and from the young age of three, I would spend the year with my mom (who worked at a bakery) and summers with my dad ( a teacher). Those early years were tough, and while my parents loved me the best they could, we were very poor. It was the kind of poverty that includes dumpster diving, trailer parks, and notes from the landlord on your front door. Of course, like any young person,,  I soaked in everything like a sponge. I knew I wanted a different life.  I wanted to see what the world had to offer.

Upon graduating high school in 1992, I knew from spending time in ROTC and with encouragement from my Grandfather (a Navy Seabee who was on the beaches of Normandy) that I wanted to give the military a try. After joining the Navy in 1993, I started traveling the world.  But, my military career  was cut short in 1996. When I was on deployment in Italy, I was injured in a horrible accident. I fractured my skull, broke eight ribs along my spine, broke bones in my foot, and had internal bleeding. I spent a month and a half in the hospital and a year of recovery in Washington D.C. 

I was honorably and medically discharged from the Navy. After my first brief marriage ended (quickly and mutually), I found myself a little lost and dealing with PTSD. 

I had a Navy friend who knew I needed a change. I was passionate about technology and he encouraged me to do something about it. So by leveraging my Montgomery College GI Bill and service-connected disabilities, I was able to have my tuition supplemented by the VA, as I pursued a career in technology.

At first, my career was going to be in networking. I have always been artistic, but found that didn’t pay the bills. Furthermore, back then, in 1998, there really wasn’t a “web design” industry. I would often dabble with Adobe Photoshop, but it was just for fun. So, I obtained my AA, then some technology certificates, and continued to work toward my bachelor’s. While this was going on, I would work  various part-time jobs at night, doing whatever I could do to generate income while getting my education.

After an internship and a small job working for a networking company, I was given my first real “professional” working experience.  I did software upgrades for the IRS on the Y2K project as a contractor, traveling across the country for over six months. Shortly after the project came to an end, I got my big opportunity working with an ad company (which was later bought) It was this job that allowed me to see the real potential for technology.

I started designing banner ads and email blasts in my off-hours while supporting the company with technical integrations from other teams. After that position, I worked for one more company in D.C. for about a year and a half, and then in 2002, the Dot Com bubble burst. A day after I found out that my new wife Michelle was pregnant with our first son, I was let go.

For six months, I tried to find a job, and I could not find one anywhere. During that time, I found God. I started doing side work building computers, and occasionally, I would get an opportunity to build a website for $300 (which made a difference when you are on unemployment). 

It  had been six months. I was at my breaking point when my prospects changed. A mutual friend introduced me to a local real estate agent that needed his computer fixed. While I was there, I tried to obtain any work I could, and I even told him I could  build a website. So after the first website I made for him, he said he was interested in working together. He would sell the websites, and I would design them. 

We worked above his garage for 15 to 18 hours a day, with no Air Conditioning or bathroom, building websites for other real estate agents. I was making a  meager living, but I was taking care of my family.

Over four years, each year would get better, and that real estate agent would become my partner; business was good. Around that same time, my now former partner had some inroads with a national real estate company. In fact, he had gained a position working high up in corporate headquarters as a “c-level” executive, and that got our small company MOJO into the door. We still didn’t make any money, and it wasn’t easy. I fought through sleepless nights, doing free work, cheap work, and asking questions from whoever was listening or close to me. 

 Then, in 2008, our business, made up of 90% of real estate agents, started to collapse during the housing crisis. We stayed together as much as we could, laying off all of our employees, and I didn’t take a paycheck for a while. After countless close calls and almost losing my home…we were able to survive thanks to God and my wife, who was working.

My wife and I shared some of the troubles that any young family  has, but they were compounded by a few terrifying moments concerning our children’s health. This includes  my youngest being diagnosed with a rare visual impairment where he is legally blind. We kept our faith, and over time, the economy improved. I diversified the work I did, and I really started focusing on websites and videography.

Things were beginning to change  for me, and I didn’t want to suffer like that again. So I bought out my partners, and I decided to change the direction of my company. I didn’t want to make real estate websites, and I wanted to transform businesses. But more importantly, I was determined to succeed on my own terms and talents. If I  was to have a shot at providing my family with a home or have any professional happiness, I needed to make a change.

In late 2011 / early 2012, I started getting aggressive about pursuing my dreams and setting goals. The best way to improve was to see where I was, acknowledge it, and learn from the pain that I was experiencing. So I started documenting processes, reading books on hiring, and taking chances by embracing change. For a while, we were getting good at what we were doing. I went from one employee and me, to four people, in two years. I thought I was on my way. Little did I know I was just grinding away needlessly, and I still had much to learn.

In May of 2014, my aunt lost her husband, George, on my mother’s side. Uncle George was a very successful commercial real estate broker in California. He and my Aunt lived in California high up on the mountain with many celebrities and well-to-do people. I  felt compelled to go to his funeral, especially after visiting them while on business just one month before his untimely death. During the funeral, I met many of my Uncle’s friends.  Some of them even traveled from around the world to pay their respects. One person in particular, a man named Renee, spent about 10 minutes talking to me at the viewing. He was a very polite man and asked me a lot of questions, didn’t really say much, and then politely went about his way. 

After a long day talking to all of my family and Uncle George’s friends, I was about to say good night to my aunt, and then she stopped to talk with me. She said, “I’m so proud of you, and your Uncle George would be as well.” I then said, “Thank you, that means a lot.”  Then, she told me how a couple of Uncle George’s friends were really impressed by me. I just smiled, and then she said this, “You know that man Renee? You know what he does, right?” I said no, and then she quickly continued to tell me that he was the CEO of a multi-billion dollar international medical corporation with offices in Dubai, Tokyo, and London.

 And then…that is when one of my biggest revelations hit me. If I could impress a man like that with what I know,  Why was I wasting time trying to convince other people of the value of leveraging the internet? At that moment, I decided it was time to start surrounding myself with clients that valued what I wanted to offer, rather than to sell stuff to people who weren’t sure.

After that revelation, I came back to Maryland, charged up with an insatiable desire to change everything I was doing and to “change the room I was in.” I thought I was unstoppable. Shortly after obtaining this new energy, I was working late one night at home. Around two in the morning, I headed downstairs… that is when I lost my footing and fell down five steps,  bending my leg behind me. I had actually fallen so hard I disconnected the muscle from the bone in my leg, and I was set back another six months.

For the years to come, I never let my vision  for my life, and the vision for my business and my enlightenment fade. I fought every day for my family and three boys. I  invested time and treasure on the office experience, the process of working with customers, and even the tiny details of how people should talk to customers.

Every day I started looking for clients that aligned with my vision, and had the projects that I wanted to work on. Furthermore, I was never going to repeat the near-cataclysmic closing of my business or losing my family. So I lived and breathed diversity in my time with my family and my clients. I changed our services, payments, payment cycles, the industries, and even the sizes of projects. Things snowballed for the company. However, there was another bump in the road I had to overcome.

On January 23rd of 2021, my three-day-old case of COVID went critical. On that evening at 9 o’clock at night, I had to go to the ER for shortness of breath. I wasn’t there more than 5 minutes, and they said I needed to call my wife and say goodbye to her and approve them to give me a treatment to fight off my full lungs of COVID infection. I was put into a coma and intubated. My wife and children that I had spent every waking moment building a life for were told, ‘you should prepare that he probably isn’t coming home.’ 

For two and a half weeks, my family suffered  from having no access to me or means of seeing or talking to me. I  almost died four times from chronic 104-degree fever, collapsed lungs, and pneumonia, all while I was in that coma. My wife, kids, mother, father, and friends were losing hope. I, however, was having a series of recurring nightmares that I couldn’t get out of, and I even documented. Finally, on the 18th day, my wife was given an iPad to see me, and she and the kids helped wake me . I finally woke up. I could barely move my hands… lost most of my muscle, and I was constantly hallucinating for days; at one point, I ripped my trachea tube out of my throat, almost killing myself for the 5th time, but with seconds of life left, the nurses rushed in and saved me.

After a couple more weeks, including rehab, I made it home. Since March 1st of this year, I have been on the rebound, healing with minimal long-lasting damage., I’m here again with my family, friends, and my staff, a.k.a. my MOJO family by my side. I haven’t given up on my dream and desires, but I’m constantly reminded every day of what wasn’t important when I almost lost everything. I don’t have everything figured out, I always struggle to keep my faith, but I get up every day to fight for what I want.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
There have been many challenges- medically, financially, emotionally, and from the outside world. My youngest was diagnosed with nystagmus, and is legally blind. I almost lost my house a few times in the 08/09 recession., I’ve had several medical battles including a car accident, falling downstairs, and most recently  my critical bout with COVID.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about MOJO Creative Digital?
Founded in 2004, MOJO Creative Digital is a full-service veteran-owned and process-driven marketing agency. We specialize in solving the marketing challenges for business and government agencies that suffer from the lack of consistency and frequency with their marketing. Then we integrate  their customer marketing data within their operations. MOJO serves our clients with superior award-winning website design, custom application development, videography, branding, graphic design, and digital marketing.

Our goal is to raise your expectations at MOJO.biz.

We put our clients first, and as a result…our average client is with us for ten years.  It is our relationships, quality, and service on which  our clients depend. We have done documentaries for NASA, websites that serve millions of drivers over two states, worked on small mom-and-pop businesses.  With every project, we treat our clients as if they were our first.

Is there a quality that you most attribute to your success?
I do want to share that… in my life, I’ve seen a lot, and I hope to see more, but here are a few things I live by:

  • Love your family as hard as you can, but don’t be afraid to lead…even when it is tough for them.
  • Pray as often as possible.
  • You can’t put technology first. When you don’t have a good process…technology will only magnify its flaws.
  • Take care of the people you work with.
  • My Grandfather once said, “…you have to sell quantity or quality, you can’t have both.”
  • “People will never remember what you said, they won’t remember what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
  • Go BIG or go home.
  • Embrace change at every turn, and you will see it pay off in more ways than you can imagine.
  • Give back and be a friend to everyone…because when times are tough, you really need friends.
  • No matter what…. Be candid and honest in everything you do.

Pricing:

  • Custom Award Winning Websites start at $10,000
  • Fully custom mobile applications will require an investment of $60,000 or more to be fully realized.
  • A great story telling video with animation will take time and at least $5,400
  • Digital marketing is what you spend, but our time is $200 an hour.

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