AN INDEPENDENT STREAK
Sometimes, it’s just in your nature to go against the grain. Just ask Jannese Torres-Rodriguez. She's come to the conclusion, “I think I was always meant to be a rebel.”
I have a feeling her mom would probably agree. Her mother was less than thrilled when, one day, Jannese decided that a hammock definitely belonged in her room. So adventurous Jannese tied a bedsheet from a bunk bed on one side of her room to a tall cabinet on the other side.
“I was lounging and enjoying this little paradise that I had created in my bedroom.” Suddenly, things went south – fast. “The bed and the dresser collapsed towards each other and created a chaotic scene.”
That was the end of her “island paradise” in her bedroom. But it certainly wasn’t the end of her creative and independent streak.
INDUSTRY: Blogging (Food), Podcasting (Financial Education)
STARTED BUSINESS: Side-hustling since 2013, Full-time entrepreneurship since early 2021
LATINO CONNECTION: Parents are Puerto Rican
Johns Hopkins University Advanced Academic Programs - Master’s degree in Biotechnology
Montclair State University – Bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology and a minor in Chemistry
DREAM JOB AS A KID: Marine biologist
BIGGEST GOAL YET: My biggest goal is that I grow my business to the point where I can retire my parents
A QUARTER-LIFE CRISIS
You see, as the daughter of Puerto Rican parents who came to the U.S. with a couple hundred dollars in their pockets, she tried to go the traditional path that she was encouraged to follow. “You go to school. You get a good job. You work 40 plus years. You get a pension, if you’re lucky. And then you retire.” Except, at the age of 26 or 27, she went through a quarter-life crisis.
She had started to check off the boxes: going to school, getting engaged, getting married and getting a good job. But then it hit her.
“Is this all there is to life?”
And this was coming from an over-achiever. She has a Master of Science degree in Biotechnology and a Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Biology with a minor in Chemistry. Still, these accomplishments weren’t enough. She needed more.
THE REBEL RESURFACES
So the rebel in her resurfaced. Jannese considered starting from scratch and just going to culinary school. After all, she always loved cooking. But after doing research, the practical side of her kicked in as she tried to figure out where this path would lead her – working long hours in a restaurant for little pay.
Scratch that idea.
Until she discovered the world of food blogging. An entrepreneurial spark had been lit. She found her niche. She noticed there were a couple of other Puerto Rican food blogs on the internet, but “there was really no central hub for that information.”
And she says that’s the big takeaway for anyone considering becoming an entrepreneur. “You have to first identify your lane. And just because there’s a million people talking about this subject, doesn’t mean you can’t lend your individual and your unique voice and experience to the space.”
Her creative side was anxious to be unleashed. And so she discovered she was quite the side-hustler. Since 2013, the entrepreneur has been working on her food blog, Delish D’Lites, plus she’s tried other businesses along the way. Of course, not all of them have been hits.
After establishing the food blog, she was convinced she’d also be a travel blogger. That was until cold, hard reality hit. In her pocketbook.
“I was not in a financial place to be able to afford to jet-set and hop all over the world.”
The result? “That was a very short-lived dream.”
Then came the drop-shipping business. “It was going to be a million-dollar idea.”
Except the fact that “…the only person who ended up buying from me was my mom.” And there’s the lesson for you aspiring entrepreneurs: “If you’re focused on the money up front, it’s not going to work. You have to have more than that as your motivation,” especially given you’re going to have to make other sacrifices in your life as you try to make a go of the entrepreneurial life.
There certainly have been bumps in the road - like getting laid off and spending at least $5,000 and more than six months on these ventures that went nowhere fast.
“Oh, yeah. Not every idea is going to be the one that ignites. But you also have to give yourself permission to fail, because that’s the only way you learn.”
Jannese is all about learning and mixing it up to figure out what works best for her. She started the Yo Quiero Dinero podcast about 18 months ago. It means “I want money”. She created it because she realized there was a need in the Latino community for info on investing and personal finance.
As for the food blog, it’s, basically, running on auto-pilot at this point. And with the help of influencer marketing, display ads and affiliate marketing, she was able to make enough money with her food and financial education ventures to crack the $100,000 mark last year.
And that’s why she decided to quit her job earlier this year and go full-time as an entrepreneur.
"A NATURAL REBEL"
But it all goes back to her rebellious streak. She believes she’s always been “a natural rebel”.
And her teenage angst? Well, now she realizes, it was just part of her personality. “I always questioned the status quo.”
Again, her mother would probably agree. After being put through the hammock incident, her mom chalks it all up to her rebellious daughter having “…this insatiable need to just create what didn’t exist.”
So it looks like the natural rebel really turned out to be a natural entrepreneur.
THE TIP JAR (Tips passed out courtesy of Jannese Torres-Rodriguez)
STARTING OUT: “Just start. We place way too much emphasis on worrying about what everybody is going to think.” She sums it up this way: “The thing that’s holding you back is yourself.”
“Just doing some market research in terms of how your competitors have been able to create what they’ve created will go a long ways toward helping you shape your plan.”
STEEPED IN SKILLS (mid-career): Jannese suggests you ask yourself these questions:
-What are the professional skills that you have that could be turned into a business, if you want to take that route?
-What are the personal skills you have? What are you good at outside of work, especially if you want to do something different?
After making those two lists, she advises you to sort through them and see which of the two skill sets would be really exciting for you to work on every day.
Many people think if you’re going to do a career pivot, you need to go back to school and get a degree.
Jannese says, there are many resources online you can take advantage of instead. For example:
-Google Digital Garage
She says she taught herself the following just by going online:
-How to start a blog
-How to start a podcast
-How to grow your social media following
But you must invest the time.
I’LL NEVER DO THAT AGAIN:
“I’ll never go back to a 9-5 [job], if I have something to say about it. That’s for sure. I don’t work well with a manager. I have to be the boss. So, that’s just how I roll.”
BEST ADVICE FROM “LA CASA”:
My mom is more risk-averse, so she would always tell me, “Trust your gut, mi hija.” That’s kind of the gut check.
My dad was always the dreamer. He would tell me, “The limits that you place on yourself are the only ones that actually exist.”
PRACTICAL APPLICATION: They have given me the perfect combination of being able to take calculated risks, but dreaming bigger than I guess would be normal.
NO NEED TO GO IT ALONE
HELP ON THE OUTSIDE…because we can all use a helping hand:
“Constant Contact: Gain an Unfair Advantage Over Your Competition"
The title of this FREE, hands-on, virtual workshop caught my eye. But the content description and focus on social media made me continue reading with interest. In just two hours, the class summary says you’ll learn how to market strategically, how to find and engage your target audience and, just as importantly, how to measure results. What seems helpful, in particular, is that the instructor will also teach you how to rework your marketing plan, if necessary. Plus, you get a step-by-step guide you can put into action after the class.
SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives)
Virtual Webinar - Free
Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021
6 p.m. – 8 p.m. EDT
WORKING ON THE INSIDE…because, let’s face it, our culture has a hard time asking for help:
Dale Carnegie's Thrive 2021: The Innovative Mindset
"Knowledge isn't power until it is applied..." I've been saying a variation of this quote for a long time. Your mindset holds all the possibilities. But I really believe it's useless if you have all this knowledge and don't do anything with it. So when I saw the above quoted in the course description for this SBDC class, I knew I had to share it with you. The topic is "Managing Employees", but I believe the core principle of training your mindset can help you in many aspects of your life. Here's the info for the FREE interactive training workshop:
SBDC (Small Business Development Center) - FAU
Online Interactive Webinar - Free
Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021
11 a.m. - 2 p.m. EST
INSPIRATION BEHIND THIS ISSUE:
Sometimes, being ambitious can be a curse. You’re always in search of your next goal. The “What’s next?” can leave you feeling unfulfilled, if you don’t have something lined up right away. Basketball coaching legend Pat Riley called it “the disease of more”, describing the constant need for more after winning.
I’ve known people who became doctors or got their law degree – and then felt let down once they were in the profession. It happens. So then what? Most of them just stay in the same career. They feel “stuck” and just “stick it out”. But not Jannese Torres-Rodriguez.
I was intrigued by Jannese’s story because she’s highly educated, did everything she was told and was still left with a hunger for more. But she refused to stay “stuck”.
The fact that she went into fields that she didn’t initially have a background in, but had the determination to teach herself everything she could says a lot about her discipline. She did the research, put in the work and recognized she could carve out her own space, build up a following and chart her own path. I really respect that.
I love that she’s also tailoring her personal finance podcast towards people of color. She recognized there’s an information gap in minority communities and is filling that need. Even with her food blog, Delish D’Lites, she’s staying true to her Puerto Rican roots and showcasing the best of what the culture has to offer.
I pay attention to the journey and how people respond to adversity. Jannese Torres-Rodriguez just bounces back – with even more ideas. I can’t wait to see what she’ll do next.