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Super Pow­ers — Activate

An Inter­view with blog­ger and entre­pre­neur Jes­kica Labud

Super Powers   Activate/tech interviews

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…

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?
I didn’t know how to pro­gram my idea so I was look­ing for a tech­ni­cal co-founder for a long time and in April of 2013, I decided to learn how to code and pro­gram myself and since then I’ve learned HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Cof­fee­script, Ruby on Rails, and I just launched my first web platform.

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.

Super Powers   Activate/tech interviews 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.


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