All posts by Jacques Bastien

Tomorrow’s not promised [video]

A few weeks ago, author and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk shared three words of inspiration to his followers… “YOU’RE GONNA DIE”.

We all get older and eventually die but what if that time was cut short? What if you died, tonight? Will you have been satisfied with the life that you’ve been living?

Watch the full video  below.

Which type of failure are you?

There are two types of failures in this world.

Failure that comes from ACTION, as in, starting to follow your passion and failing.

And failure that comes from INACTION, as in, not starting and never having a shot at success.

Let me tell you a quick story.

I hung out with one of my closest college friends, the other day. We originally met in 2008 and man, did this guy have a lot of passions. He was passionate about marketing, community service, dancing, cooking, and many more things. We always used to talk about our dreams; I was going to be a big time designer with a small team and he was going to be a famous Food Network chef or dancer with a unique 3-in-1 restaurant concept.

Here’s the thing though, my friend had no idea what it took to become a professional dancer or chef, let alone being a Food Network chef.

As the years went by, my friend kept on dancing and cooking. He still had no clue what he was going to do with his talents, but that didn’t stop him from working to get better. No matter how good he got, he kept on pushing himself to get better.

One day while watching Food Network’s ‘Chopped,’ he thought to himself, “I should apply to be on that show.” That same day, he decided he’d apply to be on Chopped.

Being that he was as good a dancer as he was a chef, he decided he’d try to stand out by branding himself as a ‘dancing chef.’ He even came up with a cool little name called 8 Count Kitchen (get it?).

After spending time applying to be on Chopped, making videos, and updating his social pages… he waited.

He waited some more  and waited some more…

Then the news finally came in…

He was NOT selected to be on the show.

After all of that work he put in, he still ended up failing.

The type of failure that comes from following your passion and failing.

 

Here’s the thing… I’m also a failure. I fail every single day. Heck, you’re probably a failure too.

Have you ever worked really hard for something and still end up failing?

It could be an exam for school, it could be a business venture or a loan…

You put in a lot of work and still fell short.

But–

There’s a difference between failure by action and failure by inaction. When you fail without trying, you never really had a chance of succeeding. Failure without action is permanent.

But when you fail taking action, you can actually DO something about it. You can dust yourself off, make a few changes, and try again, you can try a completely alternate route, you can work to get better and then try again…

Eventually, something will stick.

I’ve failed so many times in my career; making the wrong hiring decisions, running out of money, failing to meet deadlines, you name it, I’ve failed at it.

And that’s why  I’ve seen so many wins!

I don’t know about you, but, I’d rather fail 50x and win 1x rather than not try at all.

And let’s be honest, you’re a failure too. We all are.

The real question is, are you a failure because of your actions or are you a failure because of inaction?

Oh, and that friend I was talking about?

His name is Jermaine Wright. He currently runs a YouTube/Facebook cooking show called 8 Count Kitchen and this Sunday, February 14th at 10PM  est, you can catch him on the Season 2 premiere of Food Network’s All Star Academy.

Let’s fail more… until we start winning!  (DJ Khaled Voice)

—–

What are you failing at right now? Tweet me now and tell me about it!

Why I fired my best designer

Why I fired my best designer

Three years ago, in my college dorm room, I decided to start a design firm. Since then, we’ve grown to become boogie, a design-driven social media agency with a team of eight working out of two offices in Albany NY and Brooklyn NY.

As with any business, we’ve had our ups and downs, but one of the most memorable moments of my career was when I had to fire my company’s best designer.

He was our lead designer and he did some really amazing work. He has led most of our design projects and is the type of employee who seems irreplaceable– he was personable when interacting with clients, he was obsessive about design details, and he dedicated so much time to his work for the company. But- my lead designer was stubborn, he was a perfectionist and spent obsessive amounts of time on most projects which wound up costing the company tons. He was well aware that his work was better than most because clients asked for him by name to work on their projects.

But, his work was ALWAYS late. And in our industry no matter how amazing the work is- lateness is unacceptable!

So although he was a great designer, he wasn’t the best person to lead our design team. I spent a few days thinking about this and I decided to take him out one evening and have a chat. We spoke about the growth of the business and talked about his role. After what seemed like hours of back and forth conversation, we agreed that he could and would do better at his job by prioritizing and managing his time better.

I took his word and moved on from the situation because I did not want to even think about firing my best designer.

A few weeks later I found that we were losing clients because work was still being submitted late.

I lost sleep for a few nights wracking my brain to figure out what to do with my designer. I had a real dilemma on my hands. Having him here was hurting us more than it was benefiting us.

A few days later, after consulting a few people that I trust, my wife and the other members on our team, I decided to fire my best designer…

Over the next few weeks, I saw an increase in our delivery time, and project completion rate– the quality wasn’t 110% as it was when he was with us but it was still up there. Best of all? I was finally able to get some sleep at night.

So why did firing my best designer help grow boogie’s revenue by almost 50%?

Because that personable, obsessive, dedicated, stubborn, perfectionist was ME.

fired designer Why I fired my best designer 1ee0520

When I started boogie, I was your typical one-man-band. I had to learn and then take care of everything from business development, accounting, project management, design, and coding. Over the years, I’ve been able to relieve these other responsibilities by hiring employees but it was most difficult for me to let go of being a designer.

And our team suffered because of it.

While the hardest working, I was arguably the worst employee that my company has had. I was so busy being a designer that I forgot about the most important job-being the CEO. From business development, developing relationships, overseeing projects, etc. Firing myself as a designer allowed me to really focus on Boogie’s bottom-line and continue working towards our goals.

The outcome? We hired a few other people to take over the design position. I’ve been able to focus on bringing our team exciting and high quality projects that we all play a major part in.

So if you’re like me, think about letting go of the technician that’s inside you. He or she may be a great writer, a web developer, a video producer, or a designer, but that person won’t be able to balance the technical work while focusing on growing the business. Failing to hire someone to replace you may be the one thing hindering your growth and success.

Have you had to fire yourself before? Do you think you need to fire yourself? I’d love to hear all about it, tweet me @jacqueshbastien

10 ways to raise money to fund your business [video]

Whether you’re thinking about starting a business or you’ve already started a business, money is extremely important. In this video, I share 10 ways you can  raise money to  fund your business.

Resources

  1. Traditional Banks
    • Advantage: Well trusted  source of funding that’s been around the longest.
    • Disadvantage: Approval is hard. You need to have good credit and good profits.
    • Timeline: Takes MAD long (preparing a business plan, presentations, meetings, more meetings, etc.)

  2. Friends & Family
    • Advantage: They care about you and seeing you follow your passion.
    • Disadvantage: It’s a dangerous game when you’re putting relationships on the line.
    • Timeline: From a few days to a couple of months.

  3. Credit Card
    • Advantage: It’s pretty easy to get a credit card. Sometimes even if you have bad credit.
    • Disadvantage: Using majority (or all) of your balance will hurt your credit score.
    • Timeline: Instantly, if approved. It does, however, take 5-7 days for your credit card to come in the mail.

  4. Venture Capital / Angel Investors
    • Advantage: Invests in people and not credit scores. Great if you need to raise a lot of money. Even better for access to their networks.
    • Disadvantage: The more you borrow, the more you’ll owe. Also, VC/Angels tend to take control over the business decisions.
    • Timeline: From 4 weeks to 12 weeks

  5. Crowdfunding
    • Advantage: Get REAL customers to buy your product or support your cause. You retain 100% ownership of your company.
    • Disadvantage: Not the best when it comes to ‘typical’ products. Also, be careful as bigger companies may use those platforms to find their next idea and with their resources, build it!
    • Timeline: 45 days (15 days after the 30-day campaign ends)
    • Platforms: Kickstarter.com, Indiegogo.com, GoFundMe.com, & more.

  6. Peer-to-peer Lending:
    • Advantage: Peer-to-peer which means easier to get approved. You also get better rates.
    • Disadvantage: I’ve found more disadvantages for the investors in these transactions if the borrower defaults on the loan.
    • Timeline: Roughly 10 days.
    • Platform: Lendingclub.com
  7. Side Hustlin’
    • Advantage: You raise the money by doing work you love. You never have to owe anyone anything.
    • Disadvantage: Depends on the amount you’re trying to raise, it’ll most likely take longer to raise that amount through this method.
    • Timeline: Varies (can take a long time)
    • Resources: Read 10 Ways To Make Money Online Today

  8. Invoice Advances/Cash-flow Solution
    • Advantage: As long as you have a history of activity (based on invoices), you should qualify.
    • Disadvantage: In most cases, you repay the advance once a week. This can be a great thing for some and not so great for others.
    • Timeline: 2 – 3 Days
    • Platforms: Fundbox.com, FastPay.com

  9. Online Loan / Line of Credit
    • Advantage: Easier to get approved than traditional banks.
    • Disadvantage: Sometimes they have higher APRs than other methods.
    • Timeline: 2 – 3 Days
    • Platforms: Ondeck.com, Kabbage.com.

  10. Bootstrap / Do-it-yourself
    • Advantage: EVERYTHING! You’ll learn a lot of things along the way, and you won’t owe anyone any money.
    • Disadvantage: It’ll take longer to get to where you want to go. You’ll work A LOT more. But it’ll be worth it 🙂
    • Timeline: N/A
    • Ways to Bootstrap: Share an office or get a virtual office, hire interns from local colleges, get handy and build the things you can’t afford, get smarter about your personal spending habits.

 

Which method  from this list are you thinking about  using?  Tell me in a comment below.

The biggest risk I’ve ever taken

This month (August), 3 years ago, I made the biggest decision and took the biggest risk I’ve ever taken in my life; signing the lease to my first office.

I was only 22 years old and boogie, at the time, wasn’t making any more than $500 – $1250 per month. I didn’t have a savings account, I didn’t have an investor, I didn’t even have a team; just my girlfriend (now my wife) helping me out here and there.

When I considered backing down from signing the lease, a very good friend of mine offered to loan me some money to help with the down payment on the space.

After praying about whether or not this was the right move, I got the sign I needed to take the risk and sign my three year lease.

As soon as all the deposits cleared, I had about $250 left in my bank account. Not $250, plus a savings account; not $250 with a wealthy parent to fall back on; just $250 plus a brand new $1,000 monthly bill.

As I reflect on the past 3 years of hustling, I realize that my biggest risk was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. As of right now, boogie has grown to a team 10 passionate individuals, with two office locations, and we’ve NEVER been late on a payment.

whole office  The biggest risk I've ever taken whole office

So maybe you have a GREAT idea for a business you’d like to start or you’ve already started but are afraid to go all in.

Like Nike- #JustDoIt… you can figure the rest out later.

As long as you have faith and are ready to HUSTLE like you’ve never hustled in your life, things will work themselves out.

Now get out there, take risks, hustle, and do something great!

Update: There were so many follow up questions to the post above that I decided to respond with a video —

The biggest risk I've ever taken [Video Followup]

Yesterday, I shared the biggest risk I've ever taken and I got a lot of follow up questions.I decided to make a video answer #Hustlepreneur

Posted by Jacques H. Bastien on Wednesday, August 12, 2015

10 Ways to make money online TODAY

10 Ways to make money online TODAY

It’s now the 21st century and let’s face it- the world that we’ve come to know has undergone tremendous change in the digital space. We now have a car that drives itself, Same day delivery via drones, and you can now access most musical albums from all over the world for free (obviously except for Taylor Swift’s).

Innovation and the growth of technology has given us access to information like never before and that access has opened up so many opportunities and different ways to make money online.

If you have a computer, a skill or a talent, and the drive of a hustlepreneur, here’s a list of 10 things you can do RIGHT NOW to make money this year, starting TODAY.

10. Sell something on Etsy

etsy ways to make money 10 Ways to make money online TODAY etsy

Etsy is an online marketplace for artists and collectors to sell their vintage goods and/or their own creations (often handmade). Whether you can creatively carve orange peels or create beautiful paintings, Etsy is a great place to start selling your handmade products. Etsy store owners have reported making as low as $0 a month to as much as $7,500 per month.

9. Take online surveys

surveys ways to make money 10 Ways to make money online TODAY surveys

We all have a bit of extra time here and there, why not use it to make some extra money. There are a lot of research companies willing to pay you $100’s of dollars to take surveys online. While it’s not my favorite thing on the list, it’s very popular amongst college students.

Here’s a list of companies that will pay you to take surveys.

8. Sell your old electronics online

gazelle ways to make money 10 Ways to make money online TODAY gazelle
Do you have an iPhone 4 laying around somewhere? Or maybe you have an older Samsung Galaxy in a box somewhere? There are tons of companies out there like Gazelle.com or Usell.com that are willing to buy your old phone or other electronics. The process is very simple and you can get paid in as little as 24 hours from when they receive your products.

7. Drive others around with Lyft

lyft ways to make money 10 Ways to make money online TODAY lyft

Remember college, when you were the only person with a car in your group of friends (those days were brutal)? Remember that ‘friend’ that always wanted rides from you but never offered to fill your tank (some friend)? Well, college is now over and if you have a car that you either drive a lot or is just sitting in your garage, why not put it to good use and make some money driving people around. Whether you’re heading to your local mall or downtown in your city, Lyft allows you to pick up nearby passengers headed the same direction as you, while giving you the chance to make a few bucks during your trip. Lyft drivers make up to $35/hr.

Sidenote: I bummed when I heard about Lyft because I’ve been thinking about this concept for a while– can you tell I was ‘the guy with the car’ in college?

6. Rent your home on AirB&B

airbnb ways to make money 10 Ways to make money online TODAY airbnb

Next time you’re home, do a full walk-through, and ask yourself “can I fit another person in here?” If the answer is yes then AirB&B is for you. If you don’t mind filling up an extra room in your house, you can fill up your wallet with some extra green.

AirB&B is a startup that allows people all around the world to rent their home, room, penthouse, boat, etc to travelers from around the world.

AirB&B hosts have reported making over $30,000 a year from renting their extra spaces.

5. Teach a class on Skillshare

skillshare ways to make money 10 Ways to make money online TODAY skillshareThis is where skills really starts to matter. Are you a great illustrator, web developer, marketing strategist, creative writer, public speaker… person? If so, you can make some extra money this year teaching a class on Skillshare. Skillshare is a great platform that lets anyone teach a class on the things they’re good at. There is an approval process so be sure to only apply to teach the things that you’re truly skilled at.

Teachers on Skillshare have reported netting over $100k a year.

Sidenote: I will be launching a class on Skillshare in the near future, sign up here to find out when it launches.

4. Write for companies like Scripted & Examiner.com

scripted ways to make money 10 Ways to make money online TODAY scriptedIf teaching is not your thing but you’re an amazing writer. Then it might be best to take a peak at websites like Scripted.com, Examiner.com, and a few others.

Get paid thousands to write anything from website copy and blog posts to white papers and even books. Sign up here.

Sidenote: Scripted will be co-hosting a twitter chat with my team, boogie, about content marketing and social media this Friday (Feb 6, 2015). Check it out details here.

3. Sell your unique abilities on Fiverr for $5!

fivver ways to make money 10 Ways to make money online TODAY fivver

Maybe writing or teaching is not for you. Instead, you have a great movie voice or can create an eye-catching whiteboard animation, then Fiverr may be your best option for making money online this year. Fiverr is a marketplace where people from all over the world sell their talents for $5. It may not seem like much but if you’re good at your craft those $5 will eventually add up.

2. Start a YouTube channel, become a creator

youtube ways to make money 10 Ways to make money online TODAY youtube

YouTube is responsible for the success of many of the celebrities that we know today. Let’s look at Soulja Boy, for example, or Justin Beiber. They both got their start on YouTube and look at where they are today… well not Soulja Boy, but you know what I mean. In recent years, YouTube has made it even easier to start building your career through their platform’s partner program.

Ever heard of PewDiePie or Smosh? They both represent just a small percentage of the YouTube creator community. PewDiePie and Smosh both earn over $5 million creating videos about the things they love: video games.

It works like this:

  • You realize that you have a talent or an interest in a specific area, let’s say sports.
  • You begin creating commentary videos about sports and posting them on your YouTube channel.
  • After a few months of posting videos about sports, you start seeing an increase in your views and subscribers. The more subscribers you have, the more videos you want to post.
  • You then reach the point where your videos are averaging more than 1,000 views each.
  • You decide to apply for YouTube’s Partner program.

Once you’re approved, YouTube starts paying you $5 – $7 each time 1000 people watch an ad at the beginning one of your videos. Let’s look at a real life example: PewDiePie averages 5.4 billion views a year, even if only 5% of viewers actually watch the ads… you do the math!

If you don’t think it’s possible, PewDiePie, Smosh, and many other creators should show you over 5 million reasons why you should start a YouTube channel.

1. Start a Blog

startablog ways to make money 10 Ways to make money online TODAY startablog

Ironically, it was this month in 2014, that I bought the domain name JacquesBastien.com and started this blog. Unlike everything on this list, my intention was not to make money (hence the lack of ads on the side of the page). I spent the past 6 years (most of that was in my dorm room) learning and growing my social media agency, boogie. Throughout that time, I’ve learned a lot of valuable things and made a lot of mistakes that has helped me grow more and more each day. With real-life experiences in human resources, design, project management, sales & marketing, writing, and more, I decided to start writing this blog to help entrepreneurs learn vicariously through me.

Throughout the year, however, many companies (and people) contacted me, interested in sponsorship and advertising opportunities. While I wasn’t quite ready to monetize the blog then, it definitely became my focus in 2015. Learn more about my other 2015 plans in my 2014 Year In Review.

When it comes to blogging, there are a lot of options for monetization: selling display ads, creating native content for sponsors, product reviews, and much more. Publications like Inc Magazine, Forbes, Huffington Post, all survive using the monetization options listed above.

So if you have something valuable to say, start a blog (and if you need help getting started, shoot me an email). Or use a compound effect: start a YouTube channel to complement your blog and the content you’ll be posting there. Then when you’ve written pages of blog posts and are ready to share your skills with other people, get in touch with the folks at Scripted and get paid for your writing. But wait, you’ve never written a whitepaper before and you’re not sure if that’s your calling, so then take your skills to Fiverr and write ad copy or catchy taglines for $5.

Once you finish exploring the various platforms where you can monetize your writing skills, you will have enough experience to create a class on Skillshare and call it Creative Writing 101 or How To Start a Blog in 2017.

The world has changed and we need to change with it. I challenge you (yes, YOU), check out the items on this list and start with one thing, for now. If you need some accountability, email me, and I’ll follow up with you to make sure you’re sticking with it.

Don’t forget, as long as you’re always hustlin’, you’ll be alright!

How to stand out from the competition [Podcast]

How to stand out from the competition [Podcast]

If you’ve ever heard  any of my public rants speaking, then you already know how many times I say the  word  HUSTLE!

I can’t escape it, it’s who I am. It’s what I believe in, it’s what’s in my blood, and also what I want to instill in my kids. The art of hustlin’ also known as hard-working.

I’ve been able to accomplish a lot in my life, and I owe all of it through hard-work.

I got a chance to share my story with branding expert, Michael Peggs, on his You University Podcast.

Press play (below) to listen, and you’ll learn:

  • The art of creating a side hustle
  • How to turn your passion into a profitable pursuit
  • The strategies successful brands use to reach and engage a millennial audience
  • Innovation, disruption and the importance of business rebellion
  • Growth hacking and how to succeed online

If you liked this Podcast, I’d strongly recommend checking out Peggs’ other Podcasts.

Building the foundation of a personal brand

This will be the first blog in a series called #BuildingMyBrand made to teach entrepreneurs and those alike how to successfully build a personal brand and open the doors to many new opportunities. This series is from my upcoming book, Fake It Make It. Learn more about it here.

When I was 15 years old, I was one of the coolest guys in high school; at least I felt like I was. It had been 5 years since I moved to the US from Haiti, I was starting to finally understand this strange language that you all call English, and I just graduated from the most dangerous place in the world… junior high school (those darn bullies).

But, high school was great! I was starting to learn more about who I was, I started writing music and poetry, and even had a girlfriend. Still, none of those were the reasons why I was one of the coolest guys in high school— I was so cool because of a hairbrush.

If you were a 15 year old kid, living in Brooklyn NY in the early 2000s, you had one mission in life… ‘getting 360 waves’. Waves was a popular hairstyle that most black guys, including me, use to wear. The process consisted of getting a short haircut (known as a dark caesar) and consistently brushing your hair until wavy lines started forming… thus, creating waves. Those who continued the process months after months would eventually get the waves that formed in their hair to connect; hence, 360 waves— And I was one of those people on that journey.

Like everyone else, I brushed my hair every chance I got; whether I was in school, at home, or in church. I even started looking for a smaller hairbrush that could fit in my pocket to make it easier to take my brush everywhere. I went to the beauty supply story and that’s when I saw a beautiful miniature hairbrush attached to a keychain. The next day I went to school with my new brush in my pocket but since my pants were really skinny (yeah I was a part of that fad too) the brush irritated my legs… and it just looked really weird. So I put my keys in my front-right pocket, and let the brush hang out of my pocket.

After wearing my brush consistently for months, it became a part of who I was. I made sure that every morning, before I left my house, I had my hairbrush hanging from my pocket. My schoolmates started identifying me as ‘the guy with the brush hanging from his pocket’ …and that’s when I became one of the coolest guys in high school. 😉

This went on for months and months and by that time, I had achieved my 360 waves. Everything was great, until one day, the brush broke! One morning while getting ready for school, I accidentally stepped on the brush and it broke in half. I was devastated and considered not going to school that day (yeah right, my parents weren’t having that). I went to school, like normal person, and hoped that no one noticed my brush was missing.

Everyone noticed!

Numerous people came up to me asking me variations of questions that can be summed up to ‘where’s your brush?’ It’s as if they were disappointed in me.

But I don’t blame them!

That was the most consistent thing they had seen from me for the past few months. That was the one object that people mentioned when referring to me. And just like that, it was gone. It felt like I let the entire school down.

As you can imagine, it was a depressing day for a 15/16 year old.

When school let out, I went back to that beauty supply store to learn that they were sold out of those brushes. I went to a few other beauty supply stores throughout the week but I couldn’t find a replacement brush. And just like that, I was no longer one of the coolest guys in high school. Note: I’m sure in today’s time, I could’ve easily found this brush on Amazon.

Anyways.

What does this story have to do with personal branding, you ask? — Everything!

Hi, I’m Jacques, a 25yr old writer, designer, and college professor. After spending 5 years growing my social media agency, boogie, and many other startups (authenpicapp.com, trybreadcrumbs.com, etc), I decided to start this blog as a platform to help entrepreneurs learn from my mistakes and experiences.

I launched this blog exactly one year ago, and since then, I’ve helped a lot of entrepreneurs find their passion, raise money for their startup, design their company identity, hire their first employee, and more. By the end of this series, I hope to help many more entrepreneurs take the next step towards their professional career and build their personal brand.

Why Build a Personal Brand?

Whether you know it or not, you already have a personal brand. It’s who you are, the things you do, and the way you represent yourself. Your personal brand is the reason why your friends say things like “this looks like something you would wear” or “you’re late… that’s not like you”. It’s the type of haircut you choose to wear (ie. 360 waves), the places you choose to shop, the products you choose to endorse, and many more. Your personal brand is what makes you unique.

But what if I told you that it is traits like these that other entrepreneurs have used to earn millions of dollars doing the very things that they are most passionate about; whether it’s sports, fashion, design, music, movies, etc.

Today, we’re going to talk about using your experiences, skills, traits, and story to open the doors to more opportunities. Whether you’re looking to land your dream job at a startup, get more customers for your online business, attract attention from the press, and more, I will share with you the secrets and tactics that I used to grow my social media agency, get my dream wedding paid for (yes, free), get featured in articles on forbes.com / inc.com and get tons of speaking gigs… which in turn helped me get more clients, introduced me to more partnership opportunities, and more.

Let’s dive in.

Goals and Passion.

Do you know the #1 reason why people fail at exercising? — Here’s a hint, it’s NOT because they don’t have the time. Most people fail at exercising because they forget to do one very important little thing; set goals. Last summer, I lost 20 lbs in two months— and it felt great! When I think about the only thing I did different this time that I never did the previous 10 times… it was setting fitness goals for myself. I decided to set my target weight goals in the beginning of the process, and I worked everyday for the next two months to achieve those goals.

It’s basic psychology, and that’s why before you start anything in life, it’s important to determine why you’re doing it and what your end goal is. Keep in mind, they should be really clear, specific, and achievable goals, and not general goals like “I just want to see what I can get out of it”.

Let’s take a look at some examples of some really specific goals:

  • I want to establish myself as an expert in my industry
  • I want to attract new partnerships and/or new clients
  • I want to grow my consulting / freelancing business to a team of 10 people
  • I want to get a new job
  • I just want to be the coolest guy/girl (like Jacques was in high school)

What ever it is, write it down somewhere that you will see it every single day, or at least set yourself a reminder to check back on it once a week. The more you see your goals, the easier it will be to stay focused on them.

Once you’ve decided why you’re building your personal brand, it’s now time to start thinking about what your brand will be about. To do this, create a list full of the things that you’re most passionate about.

Is it your passion to:

  • Help animals?
  • Give back to your community?
  • Empower young people to start companies?
  • Teach older folks technology?
  • Exploring different cultures around the globe?
  • Feed the hungry?
  • Politics?
  • Ui/Ux Design?
  • Writing?

Make a list of 10 things or less that you’re passionate about. These will be very important once you start thinking about what to focus on, the types of content to create, the types of organizations to familiarize yourself with, etc.

Now that you have your list, consider what they may all have in common? Can some of them be categorized as serving the community? Can others be categorized as teaching young people? The goal is to get the list down to about 2-3 really strong focus points that you’re REALLY passionate about.

To ensure you’re really passionate about the items on your list, ask yourself these three questions for each item on your list:

  1. Can I talk about this passion for hours, non-stop?
  2. Would I stay up all night, doing something related to this passion?
  3. Would I do work related to my passion for FREE?

If you answered YES to all three questions, then you’re ready to move on to the next phase. If you answered NO to any of the questions for one of your passions, I recommend going back to your list and choose something else that will ensure that you answer YES to all of the questions.

What’s your story?

We live in a world full of entrepreneurs, social media specialists, web developers, writers, fashion designers, and artists. (And If I hear of another [industry] ‘guru’ one more time…). In order to standout, you have to ask yourself, what makes me so different from other people who share my passions? This is where your story comes in.

When I moved to the US from Haiti in 2000, my family didn’t have much money. This led to us moving from apartments to apartments, until we ended up living the only place we could afford, New York City Housing Authority buildings. We lived on the third floor of a small building in Red Hook, Brooklyn. I owned one pair of sneakers and shuffled most of my outfits throughout the week. I was actually one of those kids who appreciated the fact that schools had mandatory uniforms. That way, it was normal to wear the same thing over and over.

I can go on and on about my early time in the US but I made a conscious decision a long time ago that that wouldn’t be part of my story. I don’t want to be known as the entrepreneur that started out owning one pair of sneakers. I don’t want to be known as the guy who ‘got out of the ’hood’ although the odds were against him’. All of those are the reasons that I am the person I am today; but again, they’re not what I want to be known for. Which is why my story starts out in high school, when I was old enough to take control of my life and DO something about it. When I started producing music and selling instrumentals to ‘aspiring rappers’ in my school in order to have the ability to pay for prom. Or when I started fixing computers in my neighborhood in order to pay my cell phone bill. Those are the things that I want to be known for because they all have one thing in common… hustle!

But you’re not me, and that’s the beautiful thing. If the details about your days of homelessness is important, include it in your story. If you think it’s important to share about your previous addiction (or your current one) include it. You want to give your audience as much information about you that lets them know that they can trust you, as well as relate to you. If I was a body builder / personal trainer, then I’d talk about getting bullied in junior high school by a girl (to my defense, she was WAY bigger than I was). An easy way to ensure you’re staying within context with your audience is spending some time identifying who your audience actually is. How old they are, what things they’re interested in, how they dress, etc.

Make a list of things that you’ll include in your story, the audience that you’re going to be talking to, and use those lists to write a short bio (we’ll talk about what you’ll use this for later).

Take a look at my bio below and we’ll break it down a bit. I should note that I have shorter versions of this bio to be used for different occasions (ie. blogging, speaking, social media, etc.) and based on the audience.

Bio:

Hey! I’m Jacques and I’m 25 years old. I was born on the island of Haiti and migrated to New York when I was 10 years old. I lived in Brooklyn, NY until I enrolled in college in 2008.

Before I even understood the true meaning of being an entrepreneur, I was identifying needs and investing/building solutions. While I was in high school in Brooklyn, I created and sold musical beats to aspiring artists. When I got to college (UAlbany), I ran a barbershop out of my dorm room; I ran a photography company taking professional photos for on-campus and local events; I also started and ran a graphic design company (from my dorm) which eventually evolved to adding web development services.

Every experience I’ve had early on has led me to my current ventures. I’m the CEO and founder of boogie, a design-driven social media + creative agency. I’m the founder of PrettySimpl, an online commercial print company, reshaping the printing process. I recently became the Branding Strategist at StyleHotels.com, a high end hotel booking company specializing in providing luxury, chic, and boutique experiences. I’m one of the co-founders and the Branding Strategist of Authenpic, an iPhone app on a mission to help us cherish the moments we share with our loved ones. The app turns your phone into a disposable camera and once you take 24 photos, you can develop these photos right from the app and they’ll come to your door in a few days. As of January 2014, I started teaching Interactive Design (mobile apps) at the University at Albany. And lastly, I run this blog hustlepreneur.co in hopes of using my past mistakes and experiences to help future entrepreneurs. I write about entrepreneurship, startups, marketing, social media, lifestyle and since most of my skills & abilities were self-taught, I figured why not share the knowledge and try to help others who may be in the position that I was a few years ago. So, if you want to chat, hit me up!

I recently proposed and married my college sweetheart, Dahcia Lyons Bastien. I proposed to her February 14, 2014 and our proposal video went viral. It made its way to FOX News who sponsored and recorded the wedding in NYC. A few other people/brands got involved in the sponsorship which led to Dahcia’s 25k wedding gown by Galia Lahav. Our wedding ceremony will air on a new TV show on FOX at the end of June 2014. Learn more about our story JacquesDahcia.com

Aside from business stuff… in my leisure, I enjoy playing basketball (see me on the court!), jogging, playing the guitar and listening to the great words of my mentor.

Let’s break this down a little bit…

Because my audience is younger (under 40 years old), I state my age in the first sentence. Instantly this eliminates all thoughts like “oh please, you’re probably a privileged old white guy who’s disconnected from normal life and has no idea what it means to hustle”. Now if you look at the first two paragraphs, do you see how I strategically jumped from coming to this country straight into my time in high school? It’s as if my elementary and junior high school days never existed. The most important learning moments in my life, just didn’t make the cut. Like I said before, it’s just not worth it to share.

I also list a lot of dates, locations, and names. This helps readers connect a little more because of similarities in dates, locations, and schools.

Then right after that, I jump into a few of my credentials and the companies that I’m involved in. At this point, I’ve already connected with the reader on a personal level, now I’m letting him/her know that they can trust what I say, I’m not as ‘new’ to this as I may seem.

Of course I couldn’t end it without listing two things that are very important to me, my wife (which can represent family), and God (who is referred to as my mentor in this bio).

Ps: My wife helped me write that bio based on my list of ‘things to include in my story’ that I wrote… she’s just wonderful.

Once the bio was written, I went back and added a few captions (for example, this is one of my captions). I added a few funny captions like ‘see me on the court’ when referencing basketball. Since I’m speaking to a younger audience, it does give me the liberty to be a little playful and comical with my content. My writing style includes a lot of personal stories, human tone, and transparency, but yours don’t have to be.

Here’s a little secret; your story can also evolve. If you read any of my articles before May 22nd 2014, you’ll see a lot less references to Dahcia (my wife) than you see in my recent articles (including this one).

So write your list of things to include in your story, use that to write your bio, and get it proof-read by a friend or colleague. Be sure to read it over and over and make necessary changes until you feel like your bio tells as much of your story as it can and represents the YOU that you want to represent.

You can’t control the way you are perceived,
you can only control the way you are presented.

– unknown


Alright, let’s do a little recap.

Earlier, we talked a bit about why it’s important to build a personal brand and the different opportunities that can come from positioning yourself the right way using your brand. Then, we spoke about identifying your passion and setting the right goals for yourself and your future. Finally, we just finished speaking about telling your story and controlling the way you’re perceived while keeping in mind the audience that you’re speaking with.

There’s only one more component to building the foundation of your personal brand— your appearance.

Enhance your appearance (& add some accessories).

Oh, so you thought your personal brand was only going to live on the internet? You thought you were going to build this great online persona and never have to leave your computer screen? Ha… think again! I mean, someone has to sign the contracts and pick up the checks, right?

This comes without saying, the way we look plays a big role in the way that we are perceived; therefore this plays a big role in the different opportunities that we’re presented with. Don’t confuse this with famous sayings like ‘dress for the job you want’, although this is great advice. I only want you to make conscious decisions about the way you’re presenting your brand, offline.

I made a conscious decision, a few years ago, to enhance my appearance based on the way that I wanted to be perceived. I chose the haircut that I was going to wear (and no, it’s not 360 waves), I chose to wear colorful pants and blazers, I chose to consistently keep my hair shaped up, I even chose the type of cologne that I was going to wear. Majority of the time you see me, you get a consistent experience, and that’s what I go for. This makes it easier for me to stay on the top of anyone’s mind because they can categorize me as ‘the guy with the mohawk and the glasses’ or ‘the guy with the colorful pants’. I’ve also been called fashionable… little do they know, I just found a style that works for me and just replicate it by buying the same clothes, accessories, etc.

Here’s a video I found of me wearing one of my favorite outfits. Enjoy!

The process of consciously choosing different elements to add to your physical appearance can not only help you stand out but it can also be a fun exercise. The biggest and most rewarding aspect of enhancing your appearance is that it helps boost your confidence and confidence is just an attractive trait.

Some examples of things you can do to enhance your appearance and stand out:

  • Get new glasses (take a look at WarbyParker.com)
  • Invest in a gym membership
  • Choose a different haircut/hairstyle
  • Determine your style and get new clothes (google image search:
    style inspiration for men/women or hop on Pinterest to find the style that works best for you)
  • Commit to consistent visits to the nail salon (if you plan on being the flip flops and jeans type of guy/gal)
  • and many more…

Want to be perceived as young and cool? Then how about a cool new hairstyle. Want to be perceived as a fashion expert? How about a few accessories (scarves, hats, jewelry, etc.). Or are you going for creative? It may be a good idea to commit to carrying a notebook with you all the time. It may sound ridiculous but it works, and I’ll give you an example…

I’m a very shy person… although you probably don’t believe me. So when it comes to meeting new people, I’m forced to be more strategic than bold. This was the case when I found a special young lady that I was interested in. I could never get the courage to go up to someone and say things like ‘hey there, I saw you from across the room and I knew it was love at first sight’ or whatever corny lines guys say these days. When I graduated college and got into the business world, my shyness stayed with me.

There were times that I attended paid networking events but spent the whole time by myself (not speaking with anyone) since I was too shy to approach strangers… (by the way, when it comes to business, shy people are considered the late bird).

So I developed a new plan to overcome my shyness when it came to networking events. I bought a bunch cool accessories (conversation starters), and each time I went to a networking event, I made sure I had one of them with me. There were events where I brought along my fruit infused water bottle which was invented by a 15 year old, and other times I brought my coffee mug that resembles a camera lens. Either way, I noticed these objects helped me make much more connections because people saw them and instantly struck up a conversation with me. So, as ridiculous as these accessories may seem, or the fact that I wear pink pants at times, all of this stuff actually DO work.

And just like that, we’re done with the first part of this series: building the foundation of a personal brand.

As you continue to build your brand the next few weeks, here are 5 rules to abide by:

  1. Be Yourself
  2. Be Honest
  3. Be Consistent
  4. Never Stop Learning
  5. Give Back — as in share the wealth of information you acquire

Checklist:

  • Identify your passion (write a list of 10 things then work that list down to 2-3)
  • Set the right goals (decide on an ideal outcome for the rest of your career: become a famous blogger, get a new job at CNN, etc.)
  • Tell your story (write a bulleted list of ALL the things that you think are important to include in your story, use those bullets to write yourself a bio. Be sure to get friends or family to proofread it OR email me your bio if you’d like my opinion)
  • Define your audience (identify their age, job titles, location, etc.)
  • Enhance your appearance (choose different elements to add to your physical appearance— a cool new mug, a notebook, a new hairstyle, new wardrobe, etc.)

Once you finish everything on this list, you’ve successfully built the foundation of your personal brand and are now ready to start developing it and attracting new opportunities.

What next?

Next, you will be learning about how to setup your social pages, how to claim your domain name (FnameLname.com) and how to create a website around it, as well as the importance of a URL shortener.

Now I need YOUR help. If you found this useful, I know _________ will also find this useful. In this case, _________ is a close friend of yours who would also like to learn about building his/her personal brand. So while I’d love for you to share this with your entire social network, I’d much rather you share it with __________ as they’d appreciate you more for sharing it with them. But you should also SHARE it on your social network as well. I look forward to hearing from you and __________.

Building a successful business with my wife [Podcast]

Building a successful business with my wife [Podcast]

Ever thought about going into business with your significant other?

I’ve been in business with my wife for a few years now and it’s been an awesome journey!

If you’ve ever seen our wedding proposal video (that went viral), you know that me and my wife, Dahcia, met in college and she joined me to grow boogie to the social media agency that it is today.

If you ever wonder what it’s like to build/run a company with your significant other, you no longer need to wonder.

Our good couple friends, Prince & Sarah (from WeLiveLimitless), interviewed us on their No Limit Podcast to talk about building a successful business with your significant other.

Press play (below) to listen, and you’ll hear:

  • How I leveraged the power of social media to propose to Dahcia
  • Why Dahcia made the transition to work with me
  • The best and worst things about working together
  • How to keep the business and the relationship running smoothly
  • How we keep each other accountable in business
  • Advice we’d give to others considering going into business together

 

If you liked this Podcast, I’d strongly recommend checking out their other Podcasts.

When everything seems to be going wrong, try this 1 trick

This post is from my #quickthoughts series; my no-filter, no-proofread, no-spellcheck thoughts on the things happening around me. These thoughts are written as they happen and are intended to be transparent, personal, and (as the kids say) raw! Here goes… (don’t forget, no spellcheck)

2da1d770-a151-43cc-95f0-bed6a8af2a0f  When everything seems to be going wrong, try this 1 trick 2da1d770 a151 43cc 95f0 bed6a8af2a0f

I’m currently writing this post from an airplane heading back to New York from Miami, Florida. Me and my wife (sitting to the right of me) celebrated our one year anniversary and her 24th birthday by taking a week “off “ from work and exploring Florida. We stayed at three (3) different places; Tampa, South Beach, and Downtown Miami (in that order).

I’m sitting here replaying this amazing trip in my head and the only thing I can think about is the fact that “everything truly does happen for a reason”.

This is a personal mantra of mine that I’ve been living by for years and it’s helped me to THINK before I overreact to every situation that I’m involved in. It’s made me change my mentality so much that instead of worrying, I start to EXPECT great things to happen as a result of things going wrong.

The next time something goes wrong (whether you left your suitcase at the wrong place, left your phone/wallet in a cab, traveled hours to find out the place you were going was closed), instead of spending time complaining, blaming people, and arguing, try adopting an ‘everything happens for a reason’ mentality. (If you’re religious, you know the saying “God works in mysterious ways”).

What does it mean to have an ‘everything happens for a reason’ mentality? It means to embrace the things that goes wrong and move on from them. It means to see every situation through and expect a good to come out of it.

Picture this scenario.

You went to sleep and your little sister came to your room after to play games on your phone. While using your phone, the battery dies, which leads to your alarm not being available to wake you up the next day. After waking up an hour late, you get dressed and head to work. When you get to the train station, you realize you missed your train and have to wait an additional hour. Once you finally get to work, you learned that since you were already on probation, you get fired.

Darn, that sucks!

And yes, you can spend days / weeks complaining about how your sister got you fired from your job, how much the train system sucks, etc.

Or, you can realize that ‘everything happens for a reason’.

As soon as you left your house, you saw your neighbor, greeted her and complimented her on her grass. While running to the train station, you saw a weird object on the sidewalk and placed it in the trash. While running up the stairs to your train, you realize the young lady next to you is also running for the same train and you both end up missing it. You both started venting to each other about how much the train system sucks, and it led to conversations about mutual friends, favorite bars, and the fact that you guys live 5 minutes apart.

Little did you know, the compliment to your neighbor earlier that day is the reason that she’s still alive today. Your acknowledgement gave her enough confidence to call the suicidal hotline and to seek help with her depression.

The weird object that you removed from the sidewalk and placed in the trash would’ve been in the way of little Jimmy who was riding his bike to school that day. His wheels would’ve collided with the weird item and lead to him falling off his bike and breaking his arm.

Oh, and that young lady you met who also missed the train, she just got out of a bad relationship. From your conversations with her, you end up asking her out on a date and the two of you become inseparable. A few years later… marriage, kids, house, family. You get the point!

Did your little sister really get you fired from your job? Or did her actions kickstart the life that you were too afraid to go find?

Everything truly does happen for a reason and the sooner you accept that fact, the sooner you can start having a different outlook on life and EXPECTING great things to come out of disastrous situations.

Sidenote: Is ‘disastrous’ a word? It sounds like a word and Pages (word processor) didn’t correct me. Plus there’s no internet on this flight so I can’t Google it. Anyways, back to the thought.

Yes, disastrous! I’d even boldly claim that there’s NO such thing as bad things happening; just things. And it’s the way we react to them that tells our fate.

During my trip, all of the things I mentioned above happened to me (not the story about the guy getting fired). I DID leave my suitcase in Tampa and realized it when I got to Miami (4 hours away). I DID travel for hours (two different days) trying to Jet-ski and both times they were fully-booked or canceled. I DID leave my phone inside an Uber (cab) while rushing to catch this plane. We DID have to leave our AirBnB apartment at 5AM because we learned that they had bed bugs -___- (thanks to Dahcia’s commitment to finding those little things that left bumps on her baby’s arm).

Sidenote: Dahcia (to my right) is fast asleep 🙂 … man I love that girl! btw, it’s her birthday TODAY. Okay, back to the thought.

Yes those things happened to us during our trip, but still, it was the BEST trip  I’ve ever taken.

Since I left my suitcase, I ended up contacting an old friend who lived about an hour away from Tampa and had plans on heading to Miami the next day with his girlfriend. We all spent a great deal of time together this weekend and catching up and none of it would’ve happened if I hadn’t left my suitcase.

After going around in circles trying to Jet-ski and being told the wrong information, it led us to a nice little quiet place where we were able to Jet-ski with no interruptions from the memorial day weekend Miami goers.

After the 2-hour long hassle of packing, washing/drying our clothes and leaving our bed-bug-infested apartment in South Beach, we ended up going to an amazing hotel in Downtown Miami (with a Jacuzzi, pool, basketball court, gym). Nick, my Tampa friend, wouldn’t take NO for answer and decided to pick us up at  5AM and bring us to his hotel room in Downtown Miami for the night/morning. The front-desk lady was nice enough to approve our request to change the room to a double and we stayed there the rest of the weekend.

Oh, and AirBnB? They refunded me fully for my booking which ended up saving me an extra $500 from the trip 🙂

I can go on for days but the moral of the story is clear, Everything happens for a reason!

Ps: My cellphone/wallet was returned to me just in time for the flight by the nice Uber driver who refused to take a tip from me!

All in all, it was a great trip!

Now here’s a challenge to you:
Think of somethings that may have went wrong last week. I bet if you really concentrate you can probably think of a few good things that happened as a result of that thing that went wrong.

Go ahead, try it!