What do you give a person, who seemingly has it all? Well, “thank you,” is a priceless gift. Last year, Alfred gave me the opportunity to write blogs on his platform. This platform took years of energy and hard work to build, and I don’t take this opportunity lightly. Therefore, special thanks to Alfred and his exceptional team. Kudos to celebrating the 10th anniversary of your growing empire, Rhythmology! I’m excited for the next 10, 20 and 30 years to come.
On a gloomy Sunday in mid-March, I got a glimpse of the parts of Alfred’s life that most people don’t see. The minute I walked in, his pit bull, Whiskey Tango (“Tango”), greeted me like he’s known me forever. As I settled in, Tango jumped onto my lap and covered my face with kisses. I’m not a dog lover per se, but I’d make an exception for him. Tango’s affection was super sweet and instantly made me feel at home. After spending time with them, I can confidently say that Tango is a reflection of his dad, Alfred.
Alfred is super laid back yet radiates this positive, high-vibrating energy that makes you enjoy his presence. What you see is what you get whether you’re with him one-on-one, in a dance class or at a public event. Running a successful business is no easy feat yet I saw no trace of tiredness in Alfred’s face. As he recovered from back-to-back 15+ hour work days, he was more than happy to share his day off with me. Our laughter filled the air as we talked about life, business, and all the between.
It didn’t surprise me that Alfred eats, sleeps and breathes Rhythmology on his days off. Most people don’t know that Rhythmology once existed in the shadows of a math tutoring company that Alfred created to debunk the stereotypes that all nerdy kids are socially awkward or all jocks are dumb. Alfred was the exception to this stereotype. Who has ever met both a math genius and a social dancer? Not me! That is until I met Alfred.
The Birth of Rhythmology
I’ve always been very entrepreneurial. I’ve always only kind of worked for myself and never really had a boss.
Naldine: I came in when Rhythmology was up and running and missed the beginning stages of the blood, sweat, and tears. So walk me through the birth of Rhythmology.
Alfred: (laughs). It’s a complicated story. So Rhythmology was initially part of a math tutoring company called WISE Tutors that I started. Before I attended an Ivy League school, I thought that everyone would be super nerdy. However, I realized the opposite. The nerdy kids were crazy cool and had extreme athletic, artistic and social abilities. So after I started social dancing in college, I wanted to add dance to my math company to show that nerdy kids could be socially balanced and the jocks could be academically successful. We lead by example because I was a mathematician and a social dancer. We hired other tutors, who successfully balanced chemistry and piano and physics with football. That was the concept.
In math, you solve problems step by step and in dance, you do everything step by step. In Mathemology, the slogan was study the theory, follow the logic. Rhythmology’s slogan is study the movement, feel the rhythm.
Years went by, and I sought advice from a Small Business Administration (“SBA”) professional, who told me that I shouldn’t merge dance and math as a business. His logic was that a doctor, who also worked as a mechanic, would concern customers. Is he a good doctor or a bad mechanic that needs to work as a doctor to make a living? Either way, it removes trust from one profession to another.
Then, the downturn of the economy in 2008 caused a decline in my math tutor clients and forced me to drop math altogether.
There’s also a third side to the story — the personal side. My girlfriend at the time was a dancer too. I was planning the whole dance business on Long Island, and she encouraged me to “do it, do it, do it.”
That’s the birth of Rhythmology. It was the decline of the economy that allowed the arts to surge up, the advice of the SBA professional and personal pressure that pushed Rhythmology into existence.
Dear Younger Self
Whatever idea you have, just go for it. The worst that can happen is you fail.
Naldine: Like your situation, some of us have an idea, and we might seek advice from a friend, family member or professional, who casts doubt on that idea. What advice would you give to your younger self or anyone facing that situation?
Alfred: Yeah. That’s an excellent question and one that I’ve thought about. It ended up working out for me because Rhythmology is an amazing product. Whatever idea you have, just go for it and don’t think about whether another idea is better. You make that idea your A plan. Go for that. Make that happen, and don’t start thinking about what your back up plan is. Your A plan will always fail if your back up plan is in the back of your head. Once the idea fails, then fine. It fails, and your back up plan becomes your A plan. That’s what I would tell my younger self.
(reflects out loud) I should’ve kept going. I think WISE Tutors was a great concept. It was unique and tackled a lot of cool things like the balance of life with academics and phobia. A lot of kids aren’t excelling in math because of fear and the negative perception associated with nerdiness.
Find Your Passion and Build a Legacy
My parents are amazing…They taught [my brother and I] that the point of education is to find your passion.
Naldine: It’s important to highlight the cheerleaders like your ex-girlfriend, who encouraged you to start Rhythmology. Sometimes, we also seek validation from our parents because they have a vision of who they want us to be, but that might not align with who we want to be. Were your parents on board with the idea of Rhythmology?
Alfred: I fall under that category. The career path that I followed was not the one my parents thought I would. They believed that I would become an investment banker or a math teacher. However, my parents are amazing and instilled a lot of core values in my brother, Jeffrey and I. Jeffrey is a genius, and it was because of the work they did with us. They taught us that the point of education was to find our passion. They succeeded. We are doing what we love and pursued the non-traditional path. Often, following the arts, creates fear. There’s a misconception that pursuing the arts won’t result in financial success like more traditional careers. My parents, for instance, are doctors. However, one could argue that there’s art in science. Nevertheless, my parents are proud of the person I’ve become and see me as a successful entrepreneur and business owner.
For me, I’m seeking to create a legacy in life.
I want to do something that I can provide a change in. Being a Latino kid from the Dominican Republic, I felt like I was losing Spanish and my culture was evading me. Therefore, Rhythmology was the perfect way to find myself, my culture, create an industry that didn’t exist and build a legacy.
Naldine: Wow. Thank you for sharing. That was raw, authentic and very insightful. So, enough about business. Let’s talk about personal. Woohoo!
Look out for the next blog post where we talk about the leading lady in Alfred’s life!