The Extraordinary Journey and Work Ethic of Armand Peri
As the son of first-generation immigrants, Armand Peri grew up in a small one-bedroom apartment in Newark, NJ. His bedroom was actually the closet and he grew up with his two parents and two brothers. He always sought to achieve the “American Dream”, which consisted of a big house, loving family and a successful career.
Armand had a special talent for art at an early age and quickly developed a passion for it. Although his parents were pessimistic about having him turn art into a career, his talents quickly flourished and he was accepted into a prestigious art high school in Newark, NJ. Advanced art education taught him to view both the positive and negative elements of a subject space to appreciate and develop the bigger picture. His talent was recognized by the US government after he entered and won his first national talent search competition. His early success fueled him to develop a commitment and dedication to the fine arts. He visualized a goal to become the best in his field and pursued it with relentless dedication and determination. At just the age of 17, he traveled to Washing D.C. to meet with President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan to accept his award. It was at that point that he realized he had something extraordinary to offer the world.
After high school, he quickly received multiple offers from prestigious art schools and decided to attend the famed School of Visual Arts in New York City. Despite his talents, Armand still received negative criticism from his parents regarding art as a full-time career and he eventually switched his major to architecture as a result. He made the Dean’s list every year and worked tremendously hard on the side to pay his tuition.
In his late teens, Armand turned his attention to the state of his body. He remembers weighing in at a paltry 127 pounds and decided to treat his body like a canvas and paint a more appealing picture. He dove into bodybuilding with the same fervor as he did with his artistic career and added nearly 40 pounds of muscle. During the time of his physical transformation, Armand met a man who worked at “Escapes”, a male revue club in nearby Long Island, NY. Impressed with his friend’s financial success and his then-extravagant lifestyle, Armand began working at the club and became an immediate success with the clientele.
His new job provided him with the opportunity to immerse himself in the acting and modeling world. It also provided him with a strong surge of confidence he had never experienced before, due not only to the attention and success but also that he had the power within to transform his own mind, body and fortune to make it happen. He continued his physical transformation and his bodybuilding efforts and entered into multiple competitions, including the Mr. Teenage New Jersey which he won at the age of 19. Bodybuilding was a form of craft where he honed and developed the artwork by “putting in the work.” At his peak, Armand weighed in at 260 pounds, nearly double the size when he first started. He achieved a feat that no one but himself would have predicted. His transformation was powered by the “old school” bodybuilding motivation methods. He taped goals on the back of his closet door to keep them out of sight of other people, kept quiet about his goals and simply set out to accomplish what he wanted to do with extreme intensity and the power of his iron will.
Armand held several jobs in addition to working at the male revue club and consistently saw that the owners did not treat their company as a true business. He found that there was not enough focus and consistency on the quality of the show and he knew there was a gap where a quality-focused company could succeed.
He saw the void in the male revue business in New York City, including the club where he worked. For example, he would be sent out to Hartford, CT to perform at a show but only ten ladies would be in attendance due to a lack of promotion. In 1998 he took the entrepreneurial leap of faith and created “Hunk-O-Mania”, a new male revue that would begin 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 his new venture on the internet. He spent thousands of dollars a year through the platform, which at the time was a considerable amount of money for a fledgling business, but pales in comparison 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, acting as the host, ticket sales manager, promoter, dancer, and management. He learned Search Engine Optimization, web design, created the company logo, and worked 15-hour days to increase client traffic. 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 uses a hands-on experience for us success and is a frequent advisor to those who approach him with entrepreneurial questions. He always cautions others to never go into a business they have intimate knowledge of. 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. The goal is to not focus on making a lot of money but to exert control over one’s life.
Armand’s parents made less than $40,000 a year during his youth, and he says becoming rich was not on their minds. They were a different generation and had a lack of education that prevented financial success. He understands their perspective and deeply loves his parents but needed to push through the mental barriers they had set upon him. 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 turned an abstract idea into reality 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 is translating his journey onto paper by working 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. To find out more about Armand Peri and his journey towards success, check out armandperi.com.