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Friday, 19 July 2019
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This Old House - Do-it-Yourself

Armand Peri - Most Influential Nightclub Entrepreneur

Written by Posted On Wednesday, 19 December 2018 22:19

Honing the Mind and Body – The Extraordinary Journey and Determined Work Ethic of Armand Peri

Growing up in Newark in a small apartment where his “bedroom” was inside a closet as a first- generation immigrant to the U.S., Armand Peri came to New Jersey with his modest parents when he was 12 years old. Armand always had thoughts of the “American Dream.” A big house, success, and passion for being something more. Armand would not be denied.

Artistry of the Mind

At an early age, he saw his special talent for art. His parents were pessimistic about his artistic works turning into a career, but in his younger years, his talent flourished. He applied to a prestigious arts high school in Newark, was accepted and evolved tremendously. Advanced art education taught him to not only look at the positive elements of a subject, but also the negative space. He learned to appreciate the surrounding area around something, and the “bigger picture.”

He entered and won a national talent search funded by the U.S. government; his work was displayed in galleries at the national level before coming back to Newark. This was Armand’s first time excelling at something, so he committed to seeing how far this talent and dedication could take him. His journey developed his ability to see a goal, visualize it, and then pursue it with dogged determination. His artistic talents gained him a chance at the age of 17 to visit Washington D.C. where he personally met President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan and reinforced that he had something extraordinary to offer the world.

Armand received offers from prestigious art schools and chose to attend the famed School of Visual Arts in New York City. Despite his talents, Armand still was haunted by the powerful pull of negative thoughts from his parents and switched his major to architecture. He reached the Dean’s list every year and worked hard on the side to pay for school.
Transforming the Body Into Art

In his late teens, Armand turned his attention to the state of his body. He recalls weighing a skinny 127 pounds and deciding to treat his body like a canvas and paint a more appealing picture. He dove into bodybuilding with the fervor of his artistic career and added nearly 40 pounds of muscle, greatly exceeding his goals. Armand met a man during this time who worked at “Escapes”, a male revue club in nearby Long Island. Impressed with the cash his friend carried and his then-extravagant lifestyle, Armand began working at the club and was an immediate success with the clientele.

This work provided him with the ability to go into the city more frequently to expose him to people in the acting and modeling worlds. It also offered Armand a strong surge of confidence he’d never experienced before, due not only to the attention and success but also knowing he committed to his body transformation and fortune and made it happen -- himself. His bodybuilding efforts then moved into competitions including the Mr. Teenage New Jersey which he won at the age of 19. Bodybuilding was for him a craft like any other, one honed by “putting in the work.” At his peak Armand weighed 260 pounds, a near doubling of his size when he started bodybuilding, a feat that no one but himself would have predicted. His transformation was powered by “old school” motivation. He taped goals on the back

of his closet door (to keep them out of sight of others), didn’t discuss the goals, he simply set out to accomplish what he wanted to do with extreme intensity and the power of his iron will.

Early Successes Powered the Entrepreneur Path

Armand held several jobs in addition to working at the male revue club, and consistently saw owners that didn’t treat their company like a true business. There was not enough focus and insistence on quality, and he knew there was a gap where quality-focused companies could exceed.

He saw such a void in the male revue business around NYC, including the club where he worked. For example, he’d be sent on a dancing gig out to Hartford, but only ten ladies would show up due to the lack of promotion. Armand saw a vibrant market opportunity for a better way to run the business. In 1998 he took the entrepreneurial leap and created “Hunk-O-Mania” a new male revue club that began a steady climb to success. He was a very early player in online advertising and used the platform Overture (now a part of Yahoo!) to promote the club on the internet. He spent thousands of dollars a year through the platform, which in those days was a considerable amount of money for a fledgling business, but pales to the more than $2 million a year the company spends now.

Armand’s drive and work ethic honed by art and bodybuilding pushed him to expand his business rapidly. He dove into all parts of the business. He acted as the host, ticket sales manager, promoter, dancer, and boss. He learned SEO and web design, created the company’s logo, and worked 15 hour days to get people in the door. The result? Hunk-O-Mania is now a multi-million dollar business with locations in 19 cities and is the leading male revue brand in America.

Armand Peri’s hands-on experience is crucial for his success, and Armand frequently advises such an approach to those who ask “how did you become successful?” He cautions people to never go into a business they know nothing about and to learn the business intimately so they have more context and can offer intelligent input.

When speaking to entrepreneurs, Armand tells them to clearly define what they want, both in terms of the meaning of “success” and their specific business idea. He says the focus is not on making piles of money, but to exert a measure of control over one’s life and to have financial freedom.

Armand’s parents made less than $40,000 a year during his youth, and he says becoming rich wasn’t in their minds. They were a different generation and had a lack of education that prevented financial gains. He understands their perspective and deeply loves his parents, but needed to push through the mental barriers. Using visualization, he drove himself to excel in the art world, transforming his weak body and then applying that same “vision” to create a thriving business. He understands the benefit of accomplishing early short-term goals as powerful confidence builders.

A favorite saying of Armand’s is to “make your life a masterpiece”, an apt phrase for an artist who visualized success and followed it to outstanding completion. He made it real by writing goals on that old closet door and used his fortitude to pursue his goals with an awesome display of progress. Armand’s journey is one of self-sacrifice and self-exploration, one that took him from crafting award- winning art to award-winning excellence in bodybuilding. He’s translating his journey onto paper byworking on a book that offers guidance for people that want to accomplish creative and financial goals. Armand continues to pursue his own goals, by further growing his business and committing two hours a day to creating art. His success allows him the opportunity to paint, sketch and revisit his first love that first defined his unbelievable future.

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