By: Alina Buzgar, News Editor
Living every T-Bird’s dream, Lee Abbamonte travels extensively, has friends all around the world, and makes money in the process. Here is some insight into how the proud T-Bird 2010 Alumnus transformed his passion for the open road into several lucrative businesses.
During his visit to Thunderbird, on February 3, Lee Abbamonte, talked about his life, his world view and shared valuable advice about becoming a successful entrepreneur. Today, Abbamonte is the youngest American to visit all the countries in the world. He introduces himself as a “multi-media travel personality” and with more than 90,000 likes on Facebook and 28,000 followers on Twitter, Lee is an influencer in the travel industry. He monetizes on his experiences and popularity by forging partnerships with companies big and small in various industries.
“You need to network and to build your profile,” he says. Abbamonte stresses that once you know who you have, what your product is and how to tell your story, you can then network and pitch yourself. And he does it tirelessly. “My job is public relations and sales,” he adds. His three-step approach: “Don’t be afraid to ask questions, don’t be afraid to ask for money, and don’t be afraid to say no.” Many people try to become an influencer and a lot of companies value people like Abbamonte because they can really make a difference in their business. Even though his approach might sound straightforward only a few of the many who attempt to transform themselves into their own business succeed.
Abbamonte makes frequent appearances on CNN, Fox, ESPN, NBC and many specialty travel channels. He collaborates with podcasters, local news channels, independent producers and talks about TRAVEL. “Lee’s wisdom, earned from his incredible resourcefulness and plain gumption is a jewel all travelers (would be and expert) can rely on” – Samantha Brown, Travel Channel Host. He transformed his travels, and his passion for the world into several successful businesses. Adapting their technology to market to Millennials is a challenge for organizations and the changing trends we see in marketing are some of his passion projects. He has several endorsement deals such as the travel insurance with Alliance Travel, Travel Trifecta, Amex card for travelers, and he is on retainer with several other companies. He reaches to his network with advice, travel stories, inspiring adventures and puts a human face on the brands he represents while bringing the world to the people he meets through stories of faraway places and people.
An entrepreneur since childhood when he started his own landscaping business, Abbamonte went on to work on Wall Street after college. “I didn’t start traveling until I was 20 years old when I went to study abroad in London. That time in Europe visiting many countries changed my outlook on life, and made me want to see the world. I never envisioned visiting every country in the world, it just kind of happened.” He maintains that his work in the financial world has always been a means to an end. In 2008 he left Wall Street just days before the collapse and became a T-Bird. “Some of my best friends are T-Birds and they are also usually my travel buddies.”
The event was organized by Erin Schneiderman who manages the Global Issues Forum Speaker Series. She partnered with Thunderbird Marketing Association and GOGOs (Get Out of Glendale). Abdul Basith Shaukath (MBA ’15, India, and the TMA Chair) says: “The TMA contributed with marketing the event through its newsletter and Facebook page and we have been active in hosting Global Issues Forum speakers as well as in inviting other speakers to campus for talks and workshops and this was a good start to the trimester.”
The surprising parting message of the talk was “be good to others”. Abbamonte concluded, “I believe in globalization of everything including people. I believe that I am a citizen of Earth. I believe that people around the world are at their core, basically good and the same. I believe that more people should experience the world and the way traveling can open their eyes and minds to different and exciting things. I believe in just being myself. I believe in life.”
Lee’s February 3rd talk can be found at http://mediaspace.thunderbird.edu/.