Isaac Velez is the founder and CEO of The Gentleman’s Atlas, an online platform that serves ambitious and disciplined men who are constantly seeking to improve.
Born to parents who immigrated to the United States from Colombia, Velez grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Even though the 294,000-person city of Greensboro will never host a Super Bowl or be revered as a hotspot for tourism, Velez notes that there is still much to appreciate about The Gate City.
“Greensboro has a small-town ambiance. It’s not country, but it is still a small city with a big population that is spread out,” Velez says.
“Greensboro is also a great place to grow up because it’s a good place to raise a family. It doesn’t have that inherent danger that a big city does, but at the same time there’s still the opportunity to meet people, make connections, and do cool things.”
As a teenager, Velez, like many of his peers, found enjoyment in playing videos games and hanging out with friends.
These types of activities made him happy, but they weren’t conducive to him fast-tracking his personal development, something that over time began to gnaw at Velez.
In fact, it wasn’t until a few months into the COVID-19 pandemic that Velez began to take his future more seriously.
“The entire reason that my platform [The Gentleman’s Atlas] exists is because of what I went through during COVID, where I saw the potential for change,” Velez remarks.
“I’ve always been smart. I’ve always been gifted in that sense, but I never pushed myself. I was always doing the bare minimum to slide by so that I could have free time.”
At the inception of COVID-19, Velez relished being able to go to sleep in the wee hours of the morning, his life so devoid of commitments that he didn’t need to wake up until noon on most days.
Yet, even as Velez was basking in the freedom afforded by the pandemic, internally there was a quiet voice that was urging him to expand his aspirations and search for a greater purpose.
“At one point I had asked myself if this was how I really wanted to live my life. Sure, I was free because I didn’t have to do anything, but that freedom that I was experiencing was not true freedom because it wasn’t fulfilling,” Velez recalls.
Therefore, instead of wading through life on his raw talent alone, Velez began to wonder what he could accomplish if he tried to maximize his abilities.
Understanding that change needed to be made was a great first step for Velez, but recognition without action is pointless, so to make good on his newfound ambitions, Velez altered his sleeping schedule.
Now, instead of gaming until all hours of the night, Velez climbed into bed around 7 P.M., in turn waking up at 4:30 AM most mornings ready to capitalize on his new schedule.
“I would work out for two hours every morning, and for the first time I felt that I had control over my life,” Velez says.
“That period of time was a transformation from who I was, into who I was becoming.”
Empowered by a new sleep routine, consequently Velez’s outlook on everything else began to shift, and that’s ultimately what inspired him to create The Gentleman’s Atlas.
On the site, Velez started publishing biweekly podcast episodes designed to chronicle his journey through COVID, but he also hoped that his message would give hope to other men who were mired in the same state of indifference that he was.
“During COVID we were obviously isolated, but more than that I felt alone because I stopped talking to my old friends and engaging in that past behavior,” Velez says.
“And with a podcast, it’s a great way to gather information, but I also wanted to do a podcast that was twofold: first, if I could do a podcast and have one guy get to where they were trying to go, all my efforts would be worth it. Second, having a podcast is like journaling where you’re at in life. I released the episodes once a week to show myself and others my progress, so that in many ways they could replicate the growth that I was experiencing.”
Over time, The Gentleman’s Atlas grew in popularity, to the point where thousands of listeners were tuning in each month to learn more about Velez’s growth, and how they could apply his experiences to their own lives.
The results were definitely a confidence booster, but instead of rushing to social media to portray himself as an internet celebrity, Velez had the foresight to recognize that his long-term goals superseded any ephemeral pleasure he might be inclined to pursue.
“Even back then, I wanted to have the life of a gentleman. I wanted to be stylish, be able to speak eloquently, and carry myself with an elegance that reshapes the perception of someone who comes from an immigrant family, and morphs that image into someone who establishes roots in this country,” Velez says.
Today, Velez has infused different services into The Gentleman’s Atlas.
His website now offers image consultation and life coaching, but as he slowly builds his clientele, Velez is beginning to understand that what comes with establishing a high standard of living for himself and others is then having to navigate the physical and mental uncertainty that awaits.
That being said, Velez expected this torrent of challenges to arrive.
It’s why he cites the story of the titan Atlas in Greek mythology as a symbol for how he wants to live his life.
For context, in ancient folklore Atlas holds the weight of the earth on his shoulders, a burden that would overwhelm most men if they didn’t believe it was their duty to shoulder the brunt of responsibility.
“The story of Atlas is a metaphor for responsibility,” Velez says.
“As a man, you can either be hateful and envious of everyone else who doesn’t have to carry responsibility, or you can stand up straight, put your shoulders back, face the world, and bear that burden with pride.”
Velez brings this same philosophy to his coaching and consulting clients, and he emphasizes that this tactic has aided in getting his clients streamlined in the direction they’re seeking to travel.
“With life coaching, I break down what I’ve done in order to help other people get to where they’re trying to go,” Velez says.
“But we also take a different approach, where we start by envisioning the day of our funeral and working backward in order to see how we can get from today to the end.”
In the upcoming years, Velez is aiming to continue generating awareness for his platform while simultaneously building a community of like-minded men who are focused on self-improvement.
Velez is also looking to expand The Gentleman’s Atlas podcast to the level where he can bring in co-hosts to share their own unique insights and offer his budding audience even more value.
In other words, if you’re a man looking to elevate physically, emotionally, and socioeconomically, Velez is striving to cement his platform as the preeminent destination for ambitious men like you.
“I want The Gentleman’s Atlas to be the one-stop-shop for personal, professional, and corporate development,” Velez says.
In that sense, Velez is quite clear on the route he wants his life to go, which is something he advises others working toward fulfillment to establish.
“If you are trying to sail somewhere, and you don’t know where you’re sailing to, you’re just floating around, and even if you make progress in one direction, it might be the wrong direction,” cautions Velez, who also encourages his clients and people in general to not shy away from potential risks, provided said risks don’t compromise the health and integrity of the individual or their family.
“Playing it safe is one of the most dangerous things you can do because that mindset always ties back to complacency, which is why always understanding that you can demand better of yourself is important.”
Still, any significant change an individual experiences is likely to come after a lengthy and often arduous battle has been waged, both internally, and with the world.
And that’s okay, because a stable and profitable foundation isn’t created in one fell swoop, but rather, in incremental but often unnoticeable steps.
“It’s not about moving too slowly. It’s about moving in the correct direction.”
“Don’t rush into things, and don’t try to overhaul your life. Understand that it is the small moves, the things you do on a daily basis that get you where you’re trying to go over the long run.” QS
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