Super Powers — Activate
An Interview with blogger and entrepreneur Jeskica Labud
Jeskica was quite surprised when I asked her if I could interview her to kick-off my tech section. Let me explain: Jesicka among other things is the co-founding blogger of “Two Non-Techies” a popular blog for precisely non-technical co-founders of tech startups. I know what you’re thinking so is this going to be a jargon filled incomprehensible tech interview or not? Read on my fair weather friends, read on…
PB: tell us briefly who you are — what you do?
JL: My name is Jesicka Labud, and I am a blogger and start-up entrepreneur living in Berlin. I took a break from my architecture career in order to pursue my dream of creating companies. Tech start-ups are where my interests were, so I started one.
Q: How did you get started?
PB: It’s pretty impressive that you just got up and decided to follow your dream. Even more impressive is how quickly you’ve generated a loyal following.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about which blogs you write for?
JL: Sure! Since I was a non-technical founder of a tech start-up, I was meeting a lot of other like-minded people who were trying to do the same thing I was doing. So I decided to start a blog called “Two Non-Techies” and I am also a Lifehack Expert. In other words, I am a contributing author for a popular blog site called Lifehack.org
Q: How do you come up with ideas? Do you have an editorial calendar or do you just write when you feel like it?
JL: I am still in the middle of developing a very structured editorial calendar, but mostly in the beginning I sat down and brainstormed the ideas with my husband. The turning point was when I started interviewing some of my “followers”- They give us what their pain points are, and we try to cover those topics.
Q: Is blogging profitable for you or just a means of exposure?
JL: Right now I am making my income from consulting people who need help in the very beginnings of launching a tech startup. At this point blogging is not the main profit, but its just steps away. I’ll give you an example: I am creating an eBook right now, which will be about creating your own start-up by learning how to code. This eBook is something that people have asked for. When it’s out, I will charge money for it, and if my subscriber list grows, it will generate income. In the blogging world, your income is directly proportional to your list.
Q: Without giving away all your secrets do you have some advice for small businesses breaking into social media?
JL: ha-ha~ I don’t worry about giving away secrets. I will gladly tell all. Sure, it really depends on what you mean — do you mean small companies who have a brick and mortar business but want to break into social media? Or do you mean Internet based companies?
PB: Would you advise them differently?
JL: yes, it is a bit different. But there are many similarities. So, for small businesses that already have a brick and mortar business model, I would definitely suggest spending time on developing some kind of an online following. The key is to find out where your target customers hang out. If you’re trying to reach EVERYONE, you won’t get anyone. You need to figure out exactly what type of customer you have.
If you find people who might like your stuff, you can start following them, and they’ll either follow you back or check out your website. Making a modern website is always recommended. And once you have a website, you can link it to your social accounts. Before all this though is that every business needs to have a message.
PB: It’s very obvious how the need for a modern website could lead a company back to needing some coding.
Q: Since code has taken on new meanings for you – Could you finish the following two sentences: Coding for me used to be… and Coding for me has become…
JL: Coding for me used to be a mountain to climb.… a huge mystery. An insurmountable task! Now coding for me has become… a superpower. (I am not even that good at coding – but it still feels like a superpower.)
PB: Heh, don’t knock the lower level superpowers. There are plenty of superheroes out there getting movie deals even if they don’t get feature billing.
Q: Tell us a little bit about how you are using your powers.
JL: Right now I am building a start-up called Tipabl. Also, I can’t ignore the fact that I have a support community, and since June I have a weekly mastermind group with three other like-minded bloggers.
PB: Mastermind group? Please promise me you will not work on a world domination plan and develop an evil laugh. Tell us more.
JL: Hah, hah, Tipabl is a social giving platform, which will allow bloggers to be tipped, and to tip each other. The mentality of pay what you wish. Tipping is growing big on the Internet, instead of marketing tactics, people are asking for help. Instead of scheming people out of their money, people give to the causes and people they care about.
Q: How did the idea come about?
JL: My husband Martin and I were thinking about ways to change the world — specifically the world of the Internet! We actually came up with this idea back in 2010, when we were just starting to think about entrepreneurship. We wanted a way for GOOD QUALITY stuff on the Internet to get weeded out from the bad quality. We thought, what if we let people decide. Instead of putting their money behind spam, or parked pages they could support good content, so Tipabl was born.
Q: You mention your husband Martin, is he the other part of Two Non-Techies?
JL: Yes! He’s the other non-techie~ It’s crazy. We spent every second with each other. Sometimes it’s a bit difficult but we have a cause and a mission so that always brings us back. We’re learning how we work best. We take breaks by running or cycling and sometimes we make trips to get away from the computer screen that definitely helps.
PB: Maintaining a work/life balance is critical — so is having goals.
Q: Where do you see yourself (or your company) in five years?
JL: five years– wows. That’s tough because five years is a very long time in the Internet business world!
PB: Interesting thought. What is a more appropriate time frame for Internet business do you think?
JL: A more realistic time frame would be a year I guess. I want to make a huge impact in the blogging world somehow, coming from an architecture background I would also like to encourage more architects to be entrepreneurial. Five years, I want to have a successful, super informative blog going strong, and Tipabl to be a big part of the social giving world. I am also intending to become a very good coder who can solve some big problems.
Q: It seems your life goals are very clear has that always been the case?
JL: From a very young age I had a strong belief system. I was always strongly affected by social justice and life quality problems in the world. I always wanted to help others and become a philanthropist. I wanted to amass a lot of money not for myself but for the benefit of society I guess. It all sounds so lofty, I know, but it’s my most vulnerable aspect– people called me an idealist or elitist a lot of times but this is something that’s always been inside me and I can’t explain it away.
My real goal would be to someday make real change in the third world, and change things for people who don’t necessarily have that power. In the next couple of years my husband and I would like to live in Africa, and teach kids art and also how to code. We’d like to support young entrepreneurs in African countries, that’s a big dream of mine.
Q: What is the primary ingredient in your Secret Sauce for Success?
JL: You know what? I will say what I think it is because I am only going on that! I haven’t reached my goals yet so I don’t have proof! I would say: Persistence. I never give up. I keep going. Constantly improve yourself and your methods of moving forward by doing self-analysis. And be humble. Focus on others and helping others that’s how you will attract many followers and never stop learning. I invest money into my education, I took a sales course, marketing, online social media, and I learned so much!!!
Q: So as you know we met through Toastmasters International. Now that you’ve been at this a little while how have presentation skills helped you build your business?
JL: It’s literally changed everything. Learning to present myself, but also to connect with an audience, and think in terms of them and their perspective– changed the way I write and the way I speak. AND, Toastmasters literally translated into money. I’ll tell you what I mean; we have two angel investors who have invested into Tipabl. My slide deck and presentation to them was using all the skills I learned in Toastmasters. Based on the success of that presentation it was enough to kick off Tipabl. That’s how we got our start.
PB: Wow, it sounds like your worlds are coming together quite well.
JL: It’s funny but yeah.
PB: On twitter you were quoted as saying “When it comes to creative work, Quantity begets Quality, not the other way around. So keep making more” This is almost the polar opposite from what students are taught in design school. I find this interesting
Q: can you elaborate on what you meant?
JL: Yes, this is something I learned recently. I intuitively felt it but I never acted on it until now. So basically the best way to tell you about it is by telling you a story
PB: Great, I’m all ears.
JL: It’s a story I learned form Derek Sivers, one of my mentors and the creator of CD Baby. So, an art teacher did an experiment: he divided his sculpture class into two groups – to the first group he told them to create one sculpture — but make it the best sculpture they ever made it needed to be beautiful and perfect and really put their heart into it and he told them they would be graded on that. To the second group he said: I don’t care how your sculptures look, you will be graded on how many you create at the end of the semester and they would be graded merely on the quantity of work they produced. At the end of the year there was a huge gallery opening of all the works. The teacher invited great sculptors from all around to look at the student work and comment on them. The best quality, most beautiful and most profound ones were all (no exception) from the class that made a lot of work.
The point of the story is: the true masters of art didn’t hit it big with their first work. They were all prolific in their work. Created many works. It’s about how much you want it, how much you’re going to create because real learning of a craft is from doing, not thinking and planning.
Q: Is it a true story?
JL: Yes, and the moral of the story is: keep shipping like our favorite Steven Pressfield says. By the way, you know what’s so funny I did an essay for a collaborative book that’s coming out in January for a blogger friend and yesterday I found out who else was in the same book — and Steven Pressfield’s essay will be in it too I was literally so scared because my work will be next to his.
PB: Now that is super cool
Q:. What is the single most important takeaway from our discussion?
JL: You need to find something in this world that you care about enough to keep on doing. So if you’re a writer, keep on writing… and if you’re a painter keep on painting… and if you’re an entrepreneur keep on building companies.
You have to know your big “WHY”. Take that WHY and use it to connect with and build your audience. Without the WHY you won’t do the work itself, and without the WHY others won’t care. So basically it’s a combination of the idea of not giving up with always going back to your drawing board– whatever your craft may be. In other words: Stop thinking. doing is more important!
Q: Is there an App for that?
JL: If you want one, I will make one!
As a creative with a wide passion base I’m always on the lookout for people I can learn from and pass on those key insights to my followers. If you are a thought leader, trendsetter or just have an interesting viewpoint please contact me to be part of this interview series.