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Join small business expert Jack Smithson and learn how Keap can help serious entrepreneurs like you grow sales and save time. Plus, get a free copy of our ebook "25 Things Every Small Business Should Automate" when you sign up today.
Small Biz Buzz hosts Crystal Heuft and Scott Martineau are joined by Jasmine Star, a photographer and business strategist who empowers entrepreneurs to build a brand and market it on social media to grow their business.
“Your net worth is your network and that network is really built on social these days and that has been a game changer for my business,” said Star.
The secret to a successful social media presence is the ability for people to show up consistently. It wasn't until Star had crafted a plan for consistency that people would expect her to show up as a representation of her business and her brand. She had created a brand using a blog with nothing more than her words and being consistent, and applied that same ideology to Instagram.
Her social curator business will help any type of content or organization see authentic engagement on social media.
“You are enough. Do you have the willingness to keep on pushing forward to get to where you want to go? I believe that we all have that wild ability for success as long as you remain undaunted,” said Star.
Jasmine Star can be found on all social platforms @JasmineStar. You can also find her at jasminestar.com and all of her social media membership. For those who want to create a brand in marketing and social media, you can find her at socialcurator.com.
Click play for more.
Derek Harju (00:00):
Howdy listeners, as we all know, planet earth has 7.5 billion people and 7.4 billion of those people have small businesses. Now to be fair, numbers that size can be hard to envision. And to be even fairer, most of what I just said is entirely made up. But I'll tell you what isn't made up, Keap. Keap is the all-in-one client management software designed specifically for small businesses.
Derek Harju (00:22):
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Derek Harju (00:37):
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Crystal Hueft (01:10):
So Scott, I will tell you, Jasmine was the longest line I waited in at Social Media Marketing World. You had them lined up around the block.
Jasmine Star (01:20):
I don't even know what to say to that because that's literally the first time it's ever happened. So, I wish I could be like, "It happens all the time," but I was just as shocked as anybody else. I was like, "What is going on here?"
Crystal Hueft (01:29):
It was the longest line and I was completely appreciative that you stuck it out, she greeted every single person in line, took pictures with them. I mean, you are committed to really staying connected with your audience.
Jasmine Star (01:42):
Well, they, like they you, are the people why I get to do what I do, so heck yes. I would have gone four hours. It's just like you have to say thank you when you have the opportunity in person. I really do believe that.
Scott Martineau (01:54):
Well, and I think it's especially noteworthy given that we've found out that Social Media Marketing World is really just [crosstalk 00:02:00]. It's not like they had an option to go to another boring session.
Crystal Hueft (02:05):
Scott Martineau (02:05):
They could have gone out partying and they decided to wait and talk with you. That's awesome to see and I think-
Jasmine Star (02:10):
Basically I'm better than a margarita. Who are we kidding? Right?
Crystal Hueft (02:13):
A hundred percent.
Scott Martineau (02:15):
There you go.
Crystal Hueft (02:15):
Hundred percent, it was totally worth the line. I felt like it was like Disneyland when you get to the front of the ride, it was like totally met your expectations. I was like, "She is just as cool as she seemed on stage, just as cool as she seems in her posts." So I know Scott, you and I talk a lot about authenticity because it's something I'm really passionate about. But Jasmine is one of the most authentic people I know. Every single platform you see or if you're talking to her face-to-face, she's that person, the same person you would see across everything.
Crystal Hueft (02:44):
So, thank you for being completely worth that wait and for being just so awesome and real. We're so excited to have you, as I keep saying fangirling out here. It's my turn to fangirl, I guess.
Jasmine Star (02:55):
Well, I am happy to be here if I'm equally fangirling, so thank you guys for having me. Thank you for the opportunity for waiting because the wait was the derivative of this podcast and the opportunity to get to know people and serve people well. So, I'm here to get that party started, so thank you.
Crystal Hueft (03:08):
Yes, awesome. Well, I did want to share one quick story before we dive into all this awesomeness, which is that last night I had to dive into something that I have not done since probably college, which is I dyed my own hair.
Scott Martineau (03:22):
Crystal Hueft (03:27):
I'm trying not to be like those memes where the girls are coming out of quarantine looking like trolls. So, I had my roommate dye my gray hairs because I'm convinced I'm not going to come out looking older once this quarantine's over. And that was quite the experience. At some point she said, "I know you haven't been wearing makeup, but are you going to wear makeup tomorrow on your podcast since they're going to see your face?"
Crystal Hueft (03:51):
I was like, "Why Morgan?" She said, "Well, it looks like you have a major sunburn on your forehead and I can't really get more off." I was like, "What's happening here?" So I just wanted to share that. It was an embarrassing evening. I think it mostly evened all out, but I can't wait for things to go back to normal. So are you guys feeling the same?
Jasmine Star (04:13):
Yes, but let's just take a moment of appreciation for your hair. It really does look good. I don't see any sunburns.
Crystal Hueft (04:18):
It didn't fall out?
Jasmine Star (04:18):
Yeah, no. No sunburning, none of this.
Crystal Hueft (04:20):
Jasmine Star (04:21):
But I have a greater appreciation for the people who help make women look good in the world. So, there you go.
Crystal Hueft (04:27):
Right. Me too. Scott, are you feeling the same thing over there?
Scott Martineau (04:32):
I am. I mean, not for me personally, but yeah, my wife yesterday actually was also doing the whole dye thing herself, and nails, and eyelashes, and all the things like that got to be done. So yeah, it's a big deal. It is. I'm just feeling really appreciative of just being proudly gray and it happens and it works.
Crystal Hueft (04:50):
Someday I will be that authentic with myself and allow that to happen, but it's going to be probably years down the line. That's self-development, that's going to take a while for me. I'm not going to lie.
Scott Martineau (05:03):
Well, so if everybody hasn't picked up by now through the podcast description, we have Jasmine Star on today. Super excited not only to hear about maybe something that's more public, your influence on Instagram, but also really to get and understand your story as a business owner and as a human being. And we're just so pumped to jump in and have you on the podcast today. So first of all, officially welcome Jasmine.
Jasmine Star (05:25):
Thank you, thank you.
Crystal Hueft (05:27):
Yes, we can't wait. And I was telling Scott a lot about your journey as a business owner and how you fled from law school, which I thought was so badass really. Just to be like, "You know what, this is not the path for me." So, I was hoping you could tell us a little bit about your journey and about what made you make the jump into doing something completely different. What gave you the courage? I just thought it was such a good story to share.
Jasmine Star (05:53):
Thank you. I appreciate the invitation. I also want to set the record straight because I don't want to pretend like life looked different from retrospect. Because I think it would be easy for me to step in and be like, "It was. It was very brave. I was basically the Joan of Arc of leaving law school." But then that was so far from the case.
Jasmine Star (06:12):
It wasn't bravery as much as it was circumstance and feeling like this is a thing I had to do. Now, do I understand that some people wouldn't have made that same decision? Yes. So fine, I could receive a little bit of it what it means to grab life by the horns and make a decision for yourself, true. But at the time my mom had a relapse of brain cancer and we're a very close family.
Jasmine Star (06:35):
And to me, it wasn't a decision of should I leave law school? The decision that I originally made was, "I'm leaving law school now and I'll come back." It's like, who leaves a full-ride scholarship? But what I knew was they had stopped all forms of chemotherapy. My mom had a shunt placed in her brain and brain surgeries and all that other stuff, radiation. It was time to come to a close and it was about in a half year battle.
Jasmine Star (06:58):
And at that point in time I was wildly overwhelmed, stressed, and unhappy in law school. And then when we got this news, I fell into a deep depression. So I felt like, yes, I made the decision, but I also want to be very forthcoming with the circumstances surrounding that decision. And so, I did what any 25-year-old Latina does when she doesn't have any money, she moves back home.
Jasmine Star (07:18):
And so, I moved back home. My parents had a wide open door for me and I thought, "Wow, I made this really great decision. I moved home. I'm with my mom." And that was the night I moved back home. And then the following morning I waked up. I waked up because I'm so smart. I woke up and I was just like, "What did you do? What did you just do? You just left this thing that you worked so hard for."
Jasmine Star (07:44):
I'm a daughter of an immigrant. My parents never went to school. It was this thing that I was just like, "I'm doing it for my family, I'm doing it for my community. Look, look." And then all of a sudden I'm like, "What do I have?"
Jasmine Star (07:52):
My identity was so tied up in the titles and the pursuit of what I perceived excellence and promise was to all of a sudden distilling it down and being like, I have no money. I'm not a student. I don't even want to be a lawyer and my mom is dying. That radical awakening leaves you at the bottom to where the only place you can look up is, when your back is in the gutter you look at the stars.
Jasmine Star (08:13):
And I know that probably sounds like a really dark hallmark card, but it was the reality of my life. And so, it was at that time I had been dating my high school sweetheart for a while. We knew we were going to get married, but I'm type A and I was like, "My life has to fit in an Excel spreadsheet," and all of a sudden life like says, "Ha ha," and you're like, "I need to do this now. I want my mom to see us get married."
Jasmine Star (08:32):
So, we planned a wedding in less than three months and the doctors said she wasn't going to walk and she wasn't going to talk and she couldn't travel. And against all of those odds, she did all of those things and she walked me down an aisle. We were in Hawaii, there was 22 people.
Scott Martineau (08:44):
Jasmine Star (08:44):
And the crazy thing is, is that that was a... she was my North Star, it was a complete wake up call to me to realize how short life was. I was 25 and my mom was 50. I had the midlife crisis. And I'm like, "What am I doing and what do I want to do and what is the life about?" And that changed my life and made me realize how short it was and how sad it is to be unhappy doing something that you think you should be doing instead of the thing that really lights you up.
Jasmine Star (09:08):
And I'm extraordinarily happy to announce that at the time of this recording, my mom is still with us and she's the true Joan of Arc. She is courageous. She is the warrior.
Crystal Hueft (09:20):
That is courageous.
Jasmine Star (09:20):
Scott Martineau (09:21):
Wow. What an amazing story.
Crystal Hueft (09:23):
It is super amazing to me, but I also have to say being someone who thinks about things differently, my mom has been sick and I feel like the stability is sometimes what gets me through. So, I always admire people, I think it is bravery, to leave something you're unhappy with and to say, "You know what, that's just not what I'm supposed to do."
Crystal Hueft (09:47):
I'm not sure I've ever had that kind of bravery, I'm just built differently. So, I always admire that and I think it is bravery. I think, sure, you had circumstances that a lot of people can't even deal with when they're already in a profession they love. But I think the way you looked at it is why I think that's bravery. It's just a totally different mindset than I would probably be able to have with, to me, family is the world as it seems to be for you too.
Crystal Hueft (10:16):
And so, it's just amazing to me that you were able to do that at that same time and for the better of your entire family and yourself. I think that's very brave. So, I appreciate you making sure people know where it stands, but to me that is bravery. And it is maybe you take after your mom with some of that Joan of Arc because that's pretty damn cool.
Jasmine Star (10:35):
I receive that. I receive that. I'm not going to recoil. That means a lot. So, I'll receive it for what it is and I stand corrected, happily so, thank you.
Scott Martineau (10:43):
Well and thank you for being so authentic. Though I have to say I'm frustrated because I was very much looking forward to lawyer jokes but I really don't feel appropriate at this point in time.
Crystal Hueft (10:55):
Clate, our CEO, actually fled from law school to keep Infusionsoft going. And so, we do like to tease on the lawyer thing because we feel Scott lovingly says he saved Clate from that life.
Scott Martineau (11:07):
Well Crystal, I don't even know if you know this, but I... So my dad is an attorney and I have three sisters, excuse me, four sisters who married, no, three or four? Three sisters who married attorneys. And I was accepted to law school and was on my way out the door when I realized I don't actually want to do this anymore.
Crystal Hueft (11:24):
I didn't know that, Scott. You fled too.
Scott Martineau (11:27):
Yeah. Well, I don't think I can say I fled. I never made it that far. But anyway, so I would love to hear maybe enough about attorneys for crying out loud. The world has plenty of them. We don't need to, no, I'm just kidding. But Jasmine, I'd love to hear just what are the trace elements of that experience that you see in your life today from a business perspective? Did it have an impact on where you decided to go and how did that part of your journey lead you to every other day?
Jasmine Star (11:52):
I think the residual it stays with you. It's like glitter in an unexpected birthday card that you're like, "Why is it still in my hair a week later?"
Crystal Hueft (11:59):
Jasmine Star (12:01):
That's what happened at that experience. It's like you look back at everything and that became the litmus test, that became the new watermark of what you think you're capable of. And it isn't until you're thrusted into an unexpected situation and you're boiled and you just think that it's impossible. "I cannot possibly survive this." And then you do and you realize how strong and resilient you are on the other end and that very trite comment like what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. That I really felt that that was the thing that was strong enough to kill me and it didn't. And I always look back at the thing that I remember the most from that experience was New Year's Eve, they closed the hospital where my mom had just had a brain surgery. And it was happening over New Years.
Jasmine Star (12:44):
And so, just spending New Year's Eve in a hospital in Los Angeles and we weren't allowed to stay past visiting hours, but my dad is just a charmer and all the nurses loved him. And we were able to stay in her room and we brought in hats and we brought in noisemakers and my mom was completely bald.
Crystal Hueft (13:03):
Jasmine Star (13:03):
And it was a little sobering because at the time my mom wasn't talking about all the things that she did or the memory she made. She was recollecting on the things that she didn't do, the children's book that she wanted to write, and how she always wanted to visit France. And all the things that she wanted to do was the thing that was at the highlight.
Jasmine Star (13:23):
And in the time that you're going through it, you don't really think about it, but it leaves this indelible impression that days and weeks and months, and I'm standing here today years later saying, I don't want to be on my death bed wondering, what if? And I just think that every time we pursue something new, I say we, my husband is my business partner. We do everything together. He is truly the better half of the business.
Jasmine Star (13:45):
Every time we venture on something new the foundation is, I just don't want to look back and wonder, "What happened here?" I would rather look back and be like, "Wow, we learned a really big lesson. Don't do that again." But, that level of childlike wonder is just so freeing as an entrepreneur.
Crystal Hueft (14:01):
Are you experiencing it even more now that you have a new baby in your family?
Jasmine Star (14:07):
As a wise mother of five weeks, yeah. I mean, I just feel like everything that I thought I knew is just now completely recalibrated. It was just like my whole life was in search of professional excellence or whatever the case may be. And then all of a sudden I look at her and I just think, "Oh, this is why. This is why I'm supposed to make my ceiling be her floor." Everything I do should be and will be for her and her generation. And nothing lights me up more than that.
Crystal Hueft (14:38):
That just gave me chills. I love that. Make my-
Scott Martineau (14:42):
Crystal Hueft (14:43):
... ceiling her floor. I mean, that's amazing to me and she is adorable, by the way. I don't think you post for me enough pictures.
Jasmine Star (14:51):
Well, I know that's one crazy thing is like people I think expected that that's 100% what I would be doing. And it's really odd. One of the things that you know is when you put bits of your life out on the internet is they no longer become your own.
Crystal Hueft (15:03):
Jasmine Star (15:04):
And I just think that I have very thick skin. If people want to say things about how I look, how I talk, my business, the decisions I make, it means nothing to me. I want you to like me, I just don't really care if you do. But if somebody says something about me being a mother or my daughter, I'm just not in that position to field it quite yet.
Jasmine Star (15:21):
For those who don't know, my husband and I have waited so long to adopt a child and it finally happened unexpectedly on February 2nd, 2020. And so, without that emotional preparation, I never had a gestation period. We literally had 34 hours' notice and we're like, "We're having a baby."
Scott Martineau (15:39):
Oh man, that's crazy.
Jasmine Star (15:40):
So, all of a sudden people are having opinions about the things that I'm doing. And I just realized, you know what? I'm going to, of course, going to share her, of course, I'm her mother, but we're definitely keeping that as a larger private part of our life.
Crystal Hueft (15:53):
I think that's good. Well, she's adorable and the pictures you just posted were so cute. All the [inaudible], I think it was. She's perfect. She's so cute. So I'm very happy for you.
Jasmine Star (16:06):
And I feel like I can say thank you because I didn't have anything to do with her appearance. Yes, thank you. I mean, isn't she? I'm like "Thank God for her birth parents." It's all good. It's all good.
Scott Martineau (16:12):
Well, if you're taking the pictures, you're going to at least take credit for that.
Crystal Hueft (16:14):
Yes. So, speaking of pictures, let's talk about your business. You really dove into photography straight from law school. I remember hearing you talk about getting your first camera and I thought that was just such a cool thing to dive straight from that into building this successful business. So, tell us a little bit about the journey, any of the struggles you felt while you were building that part of your business.
Crystal Hueft (16:38):
And yeah, I'm curious because I one time, a long time ago, did think about being a photographer. And I saw on your website you have about a saturated market. That was one of the concerns I had at the time about photography. So, how did you push past that knowing the market was getting a little saturated? How did you make yourself stand out?
Jasmine Star (16:58):
I think it's really important before I get into the question, is to really understand that I don't feel like the photographic world is like an Island, as if this is somehow exempt or the industry that is oversaturated. What has happened with technology, specifically social media, is that the barriers to entry to virtually any industry are so low that the person who talks the most and the loudest then becomes the professional. It's less about the letters after your name. It's less about the accolades, it's less about the awards, it's less about your certifications as much as it is, how much do you show up?
Jasmine Star (17:31):
Which is crazy to actually say and crazier to believe it, but it is in fact the case. And I was living, and creating, and starting a business at the time that that whole paradigm shift had been existing. So, I got my very first camera in 2006 after expressing to my husband that I wanted to be a photographer. And he was like, "Okay, but you don't have a camera." And I was like, "Yes, but if I got one, I think I can make this work."
Jasmine Star (18:00):
So January 1st, I opened the camera, January 1st, 2006, and I'm terrible. I'm worse than worse. It's like there's nobody worse on the internet. And I realized that I have a long way to go and I don't know what I'm doing. So, I basically teach myself on Google using my manual. I start interning, I start shooting whatever I could, however I could.
Jasmine Star (18:19):
And then by 2007, it was the first time that somebody actually paid me for a photographic gig. And then all of a sudden I felt like I am officially in business. But it was during this time that I realized the gravity of the situation, I'm not very good. My father is an immigrant. I knew nobody in my city, in my church, in my community, anyone who had ever started a business.
Jasmine Star (18:40):
So this idea that you can be an entrepreneur was so new to me that I'm actually unpeeling it. And it's like 27 years old that you realize, "Wait, I can own a business? What does that look like?" So, all of these things are happening at the same time. I realize I've never started a business. I don't have any money. I don't have any resources, I don't have any of that stuff, but I have a camera.
Jasmine Star (18:58):
And around this time, 2007, there was this thing called a blog. And I was like, "I'm just going to blog." And my husband and I spoke that I would try photography for a year and if it didn't work I would go back to law school and get my full ride scholarship to UCLA.
Jasmine Star (19:10):
So, I'm trying it for a year and it seems to be taking off. And the reason why it's taking off is. I have just a camera body. I don't even have a lens. Right? I don't even have memory cards. I can't afford any of this stuff. I can't even afford a camera bag. What I'm doing is every paycheck I'm putting away 10% to save up to rent my lens, go and practice, return the lens. And then over time-
Scott Martineau (19:32):
Jasmine Star (19:33):
... I built my business on online cash. So, that's a big, big, big point of pride for myself because I was never the person who was going to take out $20,000 loan without the clear path of how to pay it back. So, I started saving up gear, things of that nature. And then over time what I realized was I was creating this blog as like documenting what I thought was going to be a failure so that I could say, "See Jasmine, this was the time that you tried it and it didn't work."
Jasmine Star (19:57):
And then over time, what happened, I just started blogging about starting a business. I was blogging about where I went out to eat with my husband and the journey with my mom. It became literally long form Instagram. That's what the blog was. And this hadn't existed prior to that. And so people...
Scott Martineau (20:12):
Do you think that attitude helped you in any way?
Jasmine Star (20:14):
... I was a linchpin. I was a linchpin.
Scott Martineau (20:16):
Yeah. Because I'm struck by just the transparency and authenticity that just shows up in you in general. And I think there's a tendency for us to get really serious about the things that we do. And maybe that's to our disadvantage.
Jasmine Star (20:33):
And I think that's something that I have to be very careful because, Scott, quite honestly, I wasn't lucky, I didn't have the luxury to be precious about it. It was like, "Do this or die. Die emotionally, die to your dreams." It's like now that we're in a different financial position, social position, professional position, I do have the luxury to be precious about it.
Jasmine Star (20:55):
And now I rage against the preciousness. I rage against like I need to protect it, it's proprietary, I'm special, I'm different. It's like, no, you're not booboo. If you're so good at what you do, share it all and have somebody else try to do it so that you're actually measurable of your success.
Jasmine Star (21:08):
If you're still standing heads and shoulders above everybody else, you're that good. And if you're standing heads and shoulders because you're trying to keep somebody else down, you're not that good. Everyone's going to rise up without you and you're going to be stuck in the past.
Jasmine Star (21:17):
So, either here nor there, the blog then became the thing that expedited my career and also created a lot of polarities in a photographic-saturated industry because people were like, "She's terrible, she sucks and how does she have a six figure business her first year?" I built a brand.
Jasmine Star (21:36):
And this is the thing that I tell people again and again, you don't need money for a brand, and you don't need tools for a brand, and you don't need a website for a brand, you don't need social followers for a brand. You just got to make people feel something. You show them that they matter and you have a business. Period. The end.
Crystal Hueft (21:52):
So, one of the things you are really, really good about, it always shocks me, is you respond to every DM, every comment. You humanize your brand, yourself as a brand. How do you find the time to do that? I mean, that is crazy to me. You have so many followers on Instagram and you, like I just said, a few weeks ago, you responded to my comment about my dog. It's so heartwarming that you're just in there really talking to your audience.
Scott Martineau (22:21):
And for context, let everybody know how many followers you have today.
Crystal Hueft (22:24):
A lot. More than we do, Scott. By a lot.
Scott Martineau (22:29):
Oh for crying out loud Crystal.
Jasmine Star (22:31):
I think it's 366 at the time of this recording.
Scott Martineau (22:34):
Jasmine Star (22:35):
So, actually I will say that this podcast came as a byproduct of a direct message. Y'all at Social Media Marketing World posted a story, and I respond to stories, it's really important for me to connect with people who are in a room with me. Even if we didn't touch, but you were to take a picture, I need to respond to you and let you know I saw you.
Jasmine Star (22:55):
Now, to be fair, there will come a time in my career that I might not be able to do it in the same capacity. I'm open to it, but I take a lot of pride in doing that now. And somebody had once explained that there's three types of CEOs. There is the marketing CEO, somebody who their power play is the marketing and creating that connection and understanding desire.
Jasmine Star (23:13):
There is the culture CEO. So think of CEO of the early days of Self West. It's like the culture of who they are and that's where they spend most of their time and energy. And you have a product CEO, so think about like Steve Jobs, it's around the thing that you sell.
Jasmine Star (23:24):
I happen to squarely fall under the marketing CEO. I spend the most of my time doing something for my business that very few other people can do. I can build somebody else for culture. I can bring somebody else in for product. I can bring out somebody else for education, but what I can do beyond nobody else is still connect with the follower and create those connections.
Jasmine Star (23:45):
There's just too many opportunities that exist from human to human without truly ever knowing who you were to begin with. I didn't think you had an opportunity, I just connected with you. And I think that's the human value is like somebody had once said, somebody much smarter, is like your net worth is your network and that network is really built on social these days and that has been a game changer for my business.
Crystal Hueft (24:05):
Well on that, I know we have you for a little bit longer here, but we're going to break for Worst Business Ideas in History and we're going to come right back with Jasmine Star and keep having this great discussion, so hang tight.
Derek Harju (24:26):
Howdy folks, I'm Derek Harju.
Dusey Van Dusen (24:28):
And I'm Dusey Van Dusen.
Derek Harju (24:29):
And this is Worst Business Ideas in History.
Dusey Van Dusen (24:31):
The show where we look back at some of the most brutal missteps, failures and flops in consumer history.
Derek Harju (24:36):
And make fun of it.
Dusey Van Dusen (24:38):
But also learn something.
Derek Harju (24:39):
Nope, it says in my contract that I don't have to learn.
Dusey Van Dusen (24:41):
Fine, the rest of us will learn something and you can just mock people's misfortune.
Derek Harju (24:46):
Dusey Van Dusen (24:47):
Welcome to the Worst Business Ideas in History.
Derek Harju (24:52):
Hey everybody, this is Derek Harju.
Dusey Van Dusen (24:54):
And this is Dusey Van Dusen.
Derek Harju (24:55):
And today we're talking about one of my very favorite things, not you sweetheart.
Dusey Van Dusen (25:01):
Yes. One of your very favorite things. Just not what we're talking about today.
Derek Harju (25:04):
Not right now. You're the worst right now, baby. I'm just kidding. That's my daughter. She's interrupting the podcast. I promise I'm a good dad. This week we're talking about one of my favorite things in the entire world, which is coffee. I drink an awful lot of coffee. Some might say too much.
Derek Harju (25:23):
And so today we're talking about, yeah, we're talking about Maxwell House's pre-brewed coffee in a carton, like in a milk carton. That's just going to happen folks, so there's not much I can do about it. In 1990, Maxwell House, which is a name most people know pretty well, produced coffee in a carton.
Derek Harju (25:47):
Imagine just like a small, one of the slender milk cartons, not the jug, but like the tall, slender carton. And what they did is they would pre-brew coffee and they would package it in this foil-lined milk carton.
Dusey Van Dusen (26:05):
Was this kept cold? Do you know? I'm curious if it was like...
Derek Harju (26:08):
Yeah, it was served in the refrigerator.
Dusey Van Dusen (26:09):
In the section.
Derek Harju (26:09):
In the refrigerator section.
Dusey Van Dusen (26:11):
Okay, interesting. So, it seems like the idea it would be not dissimilar to orange juice. Like go get some orange juice as opposed to having something going and juicing your own oranges for your orange juice, right?
Derek Harju (26:28):
Yeah. At a glance it makes sense. You're like, "Oh, it's pre-brewed coffee. We have pre-brewed coffee everywhere. It's 2020, you go to the store, there's a whole part of the freezer section or the refrigerator section that is just pre-brewed cold brew coffee." You got Secret Squirrel and you got Stumptown and you got all these competing brands now. People love their cold brew coffee.
Derek Harju (26:54):
Here's the problem though. This was not cold brew coffee. This was hot coffee then refrigerated in a container and then the person was expected to pour that into a separate container and heat it back up again and drink it. Because at the time in the 1990s, there were some people that would drink a lot like a latte or an iced coffee, but not many.
Derek Harju (27:22):
1990 people were like, "Well wait, the nineties were a Starbucks year." No, no, no. The second half of the nineties was Starbucks' era. The first half of the nineties, cold coffee wasn't a thing most people consumed. They wanted their coffee hot, their cigarettes unfiltered and their cars without airbags.
Dusey Van Dusen (27:43):
What was the immediate response? Was this something that was immediately rejected or did it hang around for a while?
Derek Harju (27:50):
So, it wasn't an out-and-out flop at first. People were intrigued by it. The coffee itself wasn't terrible. It was about as bad as you can imagine a cup of Maxwell House brought to like ice cold temperatures would be. The problem was that the product itself is cold coffee, so you have to heat it up, which means that you've added a step. And it's like, "Well, it's only one step. You're heating it up in a cup." It's like, yeah, but to brew a pot of coffee is about the same amount of effort. It's actually not that hard to brew a pot of coffee in a normal coffee maker.
Dusey Van Dusen (28:28):
So really, they're creating something that takes up more shelf space, heavier to transport, requires more work on their end and it's harder for the consumer to get home. And I imagine, I'm curious what the taste was like, but I'm sure the perception would be, "Well, if I'm going to spend the time to heat this up, then surely fresh brewed coffee is going to be better."
Derek Harju (28:54):
Yeah. They didn't make it nearly convenient enough. The point of a prepackaged product is to make your life easier, but this didn't seem to make anyone's life easier in any significant way. What it did is just created confusion as to what you were supposed to even do with the product because it's a carton of cold coffee. Now, let's assume that their intention was to start the iced coffee craze. Well, the problem is that the carton itself has a picture of steaming hot coffee on it.
Dusey Van Dusen (29:22):
Yeah, they clearly weren't going after that mode of heating this, right?
Derek Harju (29:27):
Correct. You can't heat it up in the original container, partly because it's in a cardboard container and it's definitely going to leak when those sides come apart. The other reason is it's foil-lined, so you're likely to just cause a small explosion in your microwave if you try to heat it up. By the way, kids, if you've never tried to put foil in the microwave, don't. It's fun to watch, but it'll ruin your microwave and it'll definitely start a fire.
Derek Harju (29:51):
The other problem was that it actually wasn't that shelf stable by a lot of accounts. There were people that said it tasted stale, it tasted like instant coffee, which I've drank instant coffee. I drink it from time to time. It's not the worst thing in the world, but you drink it because you have no other option. This is a time when every single home in America had a Mr. Coffee in it. I exaggerated there, but the true statistic is that at that time, Mr. Coffee, not all coffee makers, just the Mr. Coffee brand had an 80% market penetration in American households.
Dusey Van Dusen (30:27):
Derek Harju (30:28):
Yeah. Mr. Coffee was riding high in the late eighties, early nineties. So, it created a different way to drink coffee, but certainly not a better way.
Dusey Van Dusen (30:40):
Right. It's thinking about what problem are you going to solve. Right? And this is a product that seems like it was in search of a problem, right?
Derek Harju (30:53):
So, it was only on the market for about three years. And then people were like, "Well, what happened after three years?" Well, it was launched in 1990, around the mid-nineties, that's when we all saw the white and green Behemoth that is Starbucks start to expand outside of the Pacific Northwest and just eat everybody's lunch. Just completely changed the way we consumed coffee.
Derek Harju (31:23):
And that's when cold coffee did start to become a thing because Starbucks went to the trouble of cultivating an identity around drinking these different types of coffee, releasing them. They actually were basically teaching us one product at a time, different ways to consume their product.
Dusey Van Dusen (31:42):
Absolutely. So, I think some of the takeaways from this, the first is, if you want somebody to switch from something that they're doing, it can't be almost as good as what they're doing. Definitely. It can't be just as good as what they're doing. It has to be significantly better. If it's just a little bit better than what they're doing in any given moment, whatever the product is...
Dusey Van Dusen (32:08):
Like if I'm going to go buy a new phone and this phone is just slightly better, well it better be really cheap because unless it's a lot better, I'm going to hold off for a while until there's something out there that's way better than what I have right now that's really going to give me a benefit.
Dusey Van Dusen (32:23):
And it's the same with this. If they were trying to make convenient coffee, they didn't get nearly close enough with packaging that couldn't be heated up directly. Starbucks became the ultimate convenience coffee. Right? You just go grab it made for you already.
Derek Harju (32:38):
You absolutely nailed it. They didn't make anything better here. They didn't improve their product. One could make the case that this is a situation where they are diluting their brand identity by saying, "Hey, don't make this fresh, delicious cup of coffee in your own home. Take almost the exact same amount of time to heat up stale, old, pre-packaged, cold coffee and then drink that."
Derek Harju (33:06):
So, you've absolutely nailed it. If you're putting out in a tangential product to your product line, it is absolutely imperative that it solves a problem that is not solved yet or it is so much better than your existing product. Are you listening to me Apple computers? So much better than their existing product that it seems like a magical leap forward, which just didn't do on any front.
Dusey Van Dusen (33:32):
Yeah. And on the cold side of things, you mentioned that Starbucks did the hard legwork of creating the market for that sort of product. They really had to prep the market before selling that cold brew coffee was really going to become a thing. So, there's a lot of work that goes into helping people to understand the need, or the enjoyment, or whatever it is that you're giving. There's often that pre-work has to be done.
Derek Harju (34:00):
All right. This has been Derek Harju.
Dusey Van Dusen (34:02):
And Dusey Van Dusen.
Derek Harju (34:04):
We will talk to you guys next time.
Dusey Van Dusen (34:05):
Derek Harju (34:06):
Keeping ever expanding client info straight, sending the same emails hundreds of times, scheduling and rescheduling appointments over and over, who enjoys this nonsense? No one, except my cousin Brent, and Brent is the absolute worst.
Derek Harju (34:19):
Keap is the premier, all-in-one CRM. Just head over to keap.com. That's K-E-A-P.com and start your free trial today. Get the busy work out of the way so you can focus on what's important and make your small business grow with Keap. Start your free trial at keap.com, that's K-E-A-P.com. More business. Less work. That's Keap.
Scott Martineau (34:48):
All right. Welcome back everybody from Worst Business Ideas in History. We're on today with Jasmine Star and we're deep in the guts of her story. Super excited to continue this. I think Jasmine, one comment I have about your, comment about the different types of CEOs. There's a tendency, I think, among business owners to try to be all things. And I just love that you have settled into... you're aware of those distinct archetypes, if you will, and you're settling into who you are. And I think that's a really powerful state of mind to be decisive.
Scott Martineau (35:20):
And I think, it takes me all the way back to the story that you started with in, you made a decision that as you said, that the very next day you started to regret it. And I think business owners, the more they can recognize that it's not... you're going to have to make literally thousands and thousands of decisions to be successful as a business owner. It's not the fact that you're going to make all of the right decisions that matters, it's your ability to commit to a decision, lean into it, and then respond. So I love that you have been able to create success and following that. And just the stories that you've been sharing are fantastic.
Jasmine Star (35:56):
Crystal Hueft (35:59):
So, I really want to spend a little bit of time, you have found a home on Instagram and really use that to market your business and market yourself as a brand. So, I was hoping we could spend a little bit of time helping other business owners really think about how they can be using Instagram as a home and connecting with their audience there.
Scott Martineau (36:14):
Actually, I want to interject a question here too, take us back to that first moment when you started with Instagram. And was there a moment where, this is a new platform, you clearly didn't start with 366,000 followers. What was that feeling when you went into it? Give us the journey as you worked your way into Instagram.
Jasmine Star (36:34):
So, let's go back to that initial question that Crystal had proposed when it had come to how do small business owners use Instagram to grow their business? And it goes back to how I would also answer the experience as how I entered into Instagram land. And that was first and foremost understanding the importance of consistency.
Jasmine Star (36:56):
So, when you go back to those early Instagram days, nobody knew that Instagram was actually Instagram. It was just like another thing. Right? So, at the time after blogging, what really opened my eyes to having scalable conversations online was Twitter. So, I started using Twitter and then I realized I was late to the game a lot of times, like with Facebook as well. Then I started realizing that those conversations scaled especially in a visual capacity and I felt like Facebook was really great for visual creators.
Jasmine Star (37:23):
And then all of a sudden, Instagram came around and it didn't really fit. Nobody at the time was like, "Wow, this is going to be the next big thing." It was just like, "This seems like a platform that photographers should be on." In early days, photographers were hated on if you were uploading professional photos. It was this very hipster vibe of it's only the photos you take on your phone.
Jasmine Star (37:45):
I will never forget one of the first things I saw on Instagram was like a unicorn loses its horn every time a photographer uploads a photo that's not from their phone. Okay. I don't know why I remember that trash. I have no idea. So I started on Instagram, I'm thinking somewhere in the ballpark of around 2012 but it was so erratic, it was so nonsense. It was whenever I felt like it, it was whenever I remembered. It wasn't until 2014 that I was like, "okay, I see other business owners using social media to grow their business."
Jasmine Star (38:18):
And by 2014, I had already been voted one of the top photographers in the world, most socially influential photographers, one of the most influential photographers in decades. I'm saying this not as humblebrags, but to put things in context that I was more than able to have a successful platform and I was completely wasting my time on it because I kept on looking at other people saying, "Look at what you're doing, I don't have the capacity for it."
Jasmine Star (38:38):
Which is total junk if I've ever heard that before. This is truly the ability for people to show up consistently. It wasn't until I had crafted a plan for consistency so that people would know how to expect me to show up as a representation of my business and extend the brand. We went back to understanding that I had created a brand using a blog with nothing more than my words and being consistent, could I apply the same ideology short form on Instagram?
Jasmine Star (39:05):
And it wasn't until a big shift happened for me in 2016 where I was just like, "I'm tired. I'm tired of seeing other people really use it to grow their business." So this gestation period between 2014 and 2016 was me just testing, building out processes, understanding what made it work for other people, why wasn't it working for me? And then from 2016 to present day, that's when I feel like the pedal hit the metal because I knew how to show up and connect with people.
Crystal Hueft (39:27):
That's amazing. And I have to say I remember when they would hate on the photographers, I always liked it because it was cool to see what people were doing out there, but they really were making fun of a lot of photographers back then for using professional pictures, but that's what they did. So, I do think it really goes back to being, again, authentic and making sure you stay authentic in any platform you're on.
Crystal Hueft (39:51):
Instagram can be a little bit intimidating at times. We've talked in the past on the podcast about you're seeing someone's highlight reel. So, it can be a little bit much, but I think you've really nailed it. I remember hearing you actually during your keynote, you brought out something that sometimes you sit by people at these conferences and they're just sitting there like, "No, I can't do it because I'm a different business. I can't do it because this and that." And bring up all these excuses.
Crystal Hueft (40:23):
And I just remember hearing you say, "No, you can all do it and excuses aren't going to work on you." I mean, you called everyone to the mat, right? In this huge room with like 7,000 people in there. So, how can you help a business owner see if they're starting to make excuses or if there's maybe a bandwidth issue that they need to address their priorities a little bit differently? Because I felt like you called all of us to the mat in that room that day. And I loved it.
Jasmine Star (40:52):
I had read something rather recently where somebody had said, "Whenever you find yourself saying, 'I don't have time for that,' what you should really do is replace it with, that's not a priority." And oftentimes people will use bandwidth as a reason why they're not pursuing things on Instagram. And they'll say that they don't have time or they don't know how or they don't have an Instagramable life.
Jasmine Star (41:13):
And for every person who can ever come up with a viable excuse, there's somebody who has less and is doing more, given the same or worse situation. So, you could sit here and waste time and tell me why it's not going to work for you or you can find all the reasons why it will. And that was the first time that ever in my speaking career, I asked people randomly to throw out ideas and industries and then create a content for them on the fly. And the person who I did it-
Crystal Hueft (41:42):
It was so cool.
Jasmine Star (41:43):
... I am so sure, Scott, you're going to love this one. I was like, "Okay, let's brainstorm." I had never done this before. I was sweating profusely because I was like, "Girl, you better bring your trash together," because when you take it out into the wild-
Scott Martineau (41:56):
You did not ask for an attorney, did you?
Crystal Hueft (41:58):
Jasmine Star (41:58):
Why? Why? I'm like, I need a business owner. And then if there was a wave.
Crystal Hueft (42:03):
It was so funny.
Jasmine Star (42:04):
... there was a wave with all these people yelling what their business was, but in my, all I heard through being on stage was [inaudible 00:42:08]. And I was like, "I'm sorry what?" And then it's quiet and this one person says, "A lawyer," and I was like, "Oh God, no." And you want to know what? We worked the content for the lawyer as well.
Jasmine Star (42:21):
I just feel like you give me anything and we'll find a way to make it work. It's just how bad do you want it? If you can make excuses, you just don't want it bad enough. That's just it. That's just it.
Scott Martineau (42:34):
And it's the mindset, right? It's the mindset that matters that you go from putting your energy into excuses as you said, into figuring it out.
Jasmine Star (42:40):
Scott Martineau (42:41):
So, I'm curious, I was surprised to hear, and I don't know how much this ties into, I was surprised to hear you say from 2014 to 16 it was testing, which I think is a great lesson for our listeners, but specifically around processes with Instagram. So, can you tie together, what does that mean when you talk about processes, you talk about consistency and being there for your fans. What did you learn there that you're willing to share and disclose, and how can that apply with small businesses?
Jasmine Star (43:09):
Yeah, absolutely. 2014 I'm really looking and asking myself, I decided to get super geeky and ask why people on Instagram were succeeding. And to be fair, I was doing this for all my social platforms. I think thankfully, I've put an anchor in the ground around Instagram, but I have hundreds of thousands of followers on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, once in the day at Snapchat, on LinkedIn. It's all about creating the diversity in your marketing.
Jasmine Star (43:35):
So, in 2014, I'm really taking a step back and being like, "What is working and why does it work for some people extraordinary well?" I had realized that consistency was the basis. Was that the biggest Instagrammers and the strongest people with Facebook pages and the largest followings on LinkedIn was, they all had one thing in common. They showed up. They showed up consistently, they showed up ardently, and they showed up with a purpose.
Jasmine Star (43:55):
It wasn't just like random, "I'm only here for promotional periods." It wasn't random, I go really quiet, I post a picture of my cat and his Cheerios and then all of a sudden I'm a week in Cabo and I spray everybody with 26 photos in four days because I'm living my best life, but then all of a sudden have to go back to my cubicle and then I don't post anything for three months.
Jasmine Star (44:11):
That is not how people win on Instagram or any social platform. So, if then the foundational piece was consistency, I needed to build a system on how I could be consistent when I do not have a team. At the time, I did not have a team, at the time, not even now, I don't even have a very interesting life. I am an introvert. I do not have a private jet or yachts. I don't really look all that great in a bikini, by you know what I'm saying? It's like there's no reason for me to be like that quintessential fashion blogger, Instagrammer lifestyle. So what then do I do?
Jasmine Star (44:39):
Like us the plebeians, how do we show up? So, I decided to create a month of content in a day. I sat down and I spent a whole day dedicated to creating out marketing content that would last me a month instead of randomly on March 16th scrolling through my phone desperate to post something and feeling the same way on November 6th, scrolling through my phone being like, "Why is it always perpetually like I'm thirsty and behind the curve?"
Jasmine Star (45:04):
It was realized was when I had a plan, 90% of the battle was done. That's not even creating the content in one day, it's having the plan for the one day. And I think that that was a game changer massively for my business.
Scott Martineau (45:16):
Yeah. When you said earlier, I heard just bits and pieces of this in your intro and you talked about, it's how much people are willing to show up consistently. And I just want to call out that I think you're... when you shared the time when it wasn't working for you is when you were copying other people. And I think the distinction that I thought was impressive as you said, I want to evaluate why people are being successful so that you can actually get underneath and understand the why versus just parroting what everybody else out there is doing. So I love that. I love the mindset.
Jasmine Star (45:51):
Also, to be fair is, I understand that the minute you look at what somebody else is doing and try to make it your own, you will always, best case scenario, be second. When you grapple with the why, then you figure out a way and how to do it your own way. And I have to say, I was the first person to learn how to do this wrong. I made so many mistakes. So many reasons I had to apologize, so many jack-ups that I realized if I just understand the why, I then make it my own and I can walk in who, a hundred percent, I am. And people smell that on the internet.
Scott Martineau (46:24):
So, how do you prioritize your time to make sure that you can have both the consistency and also the responsiveness, which I think are-
Crystal Hueft (46:34):
Yeah, it's amazing.
Scott Martineau (46:34):
... the two sides of the same coin?
Jasmine Star (46:36):
It's working in everything into a schedule. And even when I was just starting out in my career and I didn't have very much money, I knew that outsourcing was a big piece to scaling. And I didn't hire my very first team member in, I think, 12 years into my business. So, I was doing everything for a while. And the reason I was able to grow so quickly was because I outsource components of my business that I wasn't the strongest at.
Jasmine Star (47:01):
Now that I've been able to hire people on our team, it still keeps me in my zone of genius. And that doesn't mean that I'm not wildly running at a hundred miles an hour for everything that I do. It's this, I live and die by a schedule. And I know that that is not for everybody, specifically ironic that I'm a creative, but the thing that I discovered early on was that when I didn't have a schedule, I never had time to create.
Jasmine Star (47:25):
So, part of the schedule is giving yourself the time and latitude for sections of creation, and sections for responding to DMs, sections for content creation, sections for responding to emails, sections for podcasts interviews. It's like you will know what I'm doing every day because I have a minute by minute schedule.
Crystal Hueft (47:42):
That is such a good tip.
Scott Martineau (47:44):
Crystal Hueft (47:44):
It is so easy.
Scott Martineau (47:46):
So you know today and tomorrow when you're going to be responding?
Jasmine Star (47:49):
Scott Martineau (47:49):
You know when you're going to-
Jasmine Star (47:49):
Scott Martineau (47:50):
That's all [crosstalk 00:47:50].
Crystal Hueft (47:50):
It's so easy to lose track of time when you're on doing anything, especially if you're trying to do it all. And I think that is a major blockbuster tip there is schedule it in, especially for being creative or innovative.
Jasmine Star (48:05):
A hundred percent. And then one thing that I want to draw a major point of distinction is that there is a fine line between consumption and creation. Oftentimes you'd be like, "I just don't have time to respond." Well, it's because you went down the Instagram rabbit hole of hashtags and you're barely coming up for air and then you realize you have 20 DMs. You're like, "I don't possibly have time for them."
Jasmine Star (48:22):
If you go in with your only objective, which is to create, I don't surf Instagram in the middle of the day. That's Jasmine Star time to work. The Jasmine time when I just want to waste time, that's after hours. That's just me like surfing. So very strategic.
Scott Martineau (48:42):
And that's not scheduled? I mean, maybe in big blocks but not doing that, right?
Jasmine Star (48:43):
Oh, you mean like just when I'm passing time? Oh, no.
Scott Martineau (48:46):
The consumption part.
Jasmine Star (48:47):
No, no, that's not. No, I would actually be embarrassed. Some people watch TV, I don't. I just go down rabbit holes on stories and IGTV.
Crystal Hueft (48:55):
It's so easy to do it in Instagram.
Jasmine Star (48:55):
It is. It is.
Crystal Hueft (48:57):
So easy. Oh my gosh. Well, I don't want to-
Scott Martineau (49:00):
That's good. Well, so speaking of time, I'm concerned-
Crystal Hueft (49:02):
Scott Martineau (49:02):
... that we only have maybe three or four minutes left, so I want to make sure we're wrapping up in the best way. So Crystal, any final thoughts? And Jasmine, anything that you really want to get a message to our audience of small business owners that we haven't talked about? Crystal, why don't you start [crosstalk 00:49:17]?
Crystal Hueft (49:17):
I really just want to make sure everyone knows where to find Jasmine because I know she keeps me on track with my social media. I'm looking at what she's doing and keeping track of making sure we're authentic as a brand as well. So, really for me, my final thought is, Jasmine, let's make sure they know where to find you.
Jasmine Star (49:33):
Oh, thank you so much. All social platforms @JasmineStar. You can also find me at jasminestar.com and at my social media membership, for people who want to create a brand in marketing and social media, you can find that at socialcurator.com.
Jasmine Star (49:48):
And I think that any parting thoughts would be for people to understand that the only person stopping them from success is themselves and to really deeply and profoundly understand that people's opinions of you, your partners, your parents, your children, the person who spoke negatively to you in the 11th grade homeroom and said you'd never amount to much. And that's the thing you remember when you're trying to go live on Instagram and nobody is showing up.
Jasmine Star (50:10):
When all you hear are crickets in the background and you don't understand why anybody is voting on a poll, it's you are enough and it's the people who quit right where you are that never get to where you want to go. So, you are enough. It's just do you have the willingness to keep on pushing forward to get to where you want to go? And I believe that we all have that wild ability for success as long as you remain undaunted.
Crystal Hueft (50:34):
I love that.
Scott Martineau (50:35):
Crystal Hueft (50:35):
What a good way to end the show. I mean, I feel like I can go and tackle the whole world.
Jasmine Star (50:41):
Crystal Hueft (50:41):
So thank you, Jasmine.
Jasmine Star (50:42):
Crystal Hueft (50:43):
I appreciate that.
Jasmine Star (50:43):
Thank you guys so much.
Crystal Hueft (50:44):
You are so awesome.
Scott Martineau (50:45):
Jasmine, thank you for being a walking example of the principle of entrepreneurial independence. Clate and I wrote about that in our book. Your challenge to our listeners is exactly what it's all about. As entrepreneurs, you've got to be in the place in your mind where you're undaunted and I'll leave your words to ring in their ears.
Scott Martineau (51:04):
So, thank you so much Jasmine, and thank you Crystal. Thanks everybody else in the studio. It's been a great session. We're going to call this a wrap for Small Biz Buzz.
Derek Harju (51:17):
Thanks for listening to Small Biz Buzz. Please take a second to subscribe to the show and leave a five star rating. It helps keep the show going. And if you need a hand with growing your small business, head over to keap.com that's, K-E-A-P.com and get started. More business. Less work. That's Keap.