I was a brand manager at the time. My background is in branding and marketing and I was overseeing some licensed fashion brands. I was really shocked at the fact that my seminar was filled. I was 28 and didn’t really expect to have a huge group because there were a lot of VP’s, and presidents and directors and all kinds of really amazing people on the panel that day. They brought me in because they wanted a young/younger perspective on things.
I talked about what I did on a day-to-day basis, what my thoughts were on branding, imaging and marketing as far as the whole mix and process goes. At the end of my talk, the questions that I got from the individuals in the room had nothing really to do with marketing, specifically, or branding. Instead, it had a lot more to do with ‘how did you get to a place where you’re so happy and so excited about what you do at such a young age?’ The questions I kept getting from everybody (included): What steps did you take to get there? What choices did you make? What courses did you take? What internships did you do? What they were concerned with was not necessarily the money that they would be making getting into a career, but actually loving it.
So, it was on that drive back from Kingston to Toronto where U-ology 101 was born.
U-ology obviously meaning the study of, U being you, and the whole 101 was added because I believe there’s a science to uncovering one’s passion and really harnessing it. I believe there’s really a scientific approach to figuring that out and I added the 101 because I believe it’s synonymous with that whole class look and feel so yeah that’s how the concept was born.
YBP: When you had this realization that there was a need for this type of conversation, was there anyone else out there that was doing something similar to what U-ology 101 is doing right now? And, if so, what is unique about what you’re doing?
JJ: That’s a good question. I think what’s really different about U-ology 101 is that we hear a lot of talk about how we’re going to affect the next generation and how we’re going to affect communities so that they’re stronger and more beneficial to the greater population. I’m a firm believer that, just like in a relationship, it’s very tough to make the union of two people whole when individually we’re not set up.
U-ology is not about you on a selfish level, it’s about you on an, I need to understand myself before I can understand the contributions I can make to this world, and I think that’s what makes it different than a lot of other movements that might be out there, all of which are very important to the greater good.
That’s really what U-ology 101 is about and what separates it from other things. It’s really about understanding your DNA, your passion DNA.
YBP: Ok. I like what you’re saying, I really do. I think it’s a great concept but how does it work? So when you go out are you speaking to groups? What exactly is involved in spreading that message?
JJ: Well, I think there are a number of different things involved in my talk. U-ology 101 at the core is myself going out and addressing young people, or whoever the audience is, basically taking them through the process loosely based on how I got to this point, but not necessarily saying that my process is the be all and end all, but really it’s the process from what we call the 3 keys.
So, uncovering passion would be the first key.
Talking about it, which would be the second key that we outline which is taking it from, ok now we’ve understood what we’re passionate about, how do we transcend that? I talk about the fact that it’s really important to communicate your passions. Communicate them to people who are making a life out of those things already, so you can actually learn some things from them, take cues from them and then apply them to your journey. I’m a firm believer that when you put things into the world you can help manifest them by making it real.
The third key is being about it and actualizing your dream and I talk about, once you’ve uncovered it and once you’ve talked about and put it out there, how you can harness and actualize those things. So, the three keys are the basis around the talk, but within that there are tons of examples and things that I touch upon.
One other portion of this talk that is really important is personal branding and how that really plays into taking your passions to the next level. I think a lot of people don’t take the personal branding thing as seriously as they should, especially because we’ve got all these social networks now. It’s so easy to just say something to the world. You can put it on Facebook, you can tweet it, and you can do all kinds of things now. I feel that because of the ease of access, people just feel they can just put it out there, then delete it. But, it’s very important that as we develop ourselves and develop our path to our passion and realization that you understand how important it is to put yourself out there the way in which you want to be taken. It’s key as your building networks and alliances to bring things to fruition.
YBP: We want to speak to those members who are looking at starting their own business as well, changing careers, switching gears. So I‘d like to know from you, with something like U-ology 101 this project, how did you get it started?
JJ: It takes a lot of commitment especially if you’re engaged in something already. You have to find the time to really build your machine. It really takes a lot of effort. It might take a little less sleep than you’re used to you, but that’s definitely what has to happen.
People think that when you’re looking to launch a new initiative you do so completely by yourself and that’s definitely not the case. While there might be someone who is the face of the brand, it takes a lot of people on the back end and really right along side with you to support your initiative and I think that budding entrepreneurs could really take the opportunity to consider their team, the people they’re aligning with, and the people they’re building with. It’s super important to have the right people in place because it’s not just a one-man thing, it’s really the power and brainchild of a lot of people who are committed to what it is you’re trying to put into the world.
When making a decision on anything, I need to know that the people that I’m going into this decision with, or business opportunity with or whatever with, subscribe to the things that I subscribe to. At the basis of everything that’s what really makes things drive.
Those are some of the tips I can think of for anyone looking to get into their own situation as far as business is concerned.
YBP: To get where you are today, there’s this really great NFL coach Vince Lombardi who once said that, ‘in order to be great you first have to study greatness’. Who did you study in order to get where you are today?
JJ: I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My parents run a business that’s in the arts and entertainment field, so I grew up in that realm of things. I grew up watching business happen at my doorstep. I was able to be apart of a lot of different types of conversations. I was able to travel. I was able to see large productions being put together, being apart of the arts and entertainment industry since I was able to crawl. I was able to take cues from this and study these things and, therefore, have an idea of what I wanted to be like and where I wanted to take things.
Sometimes you don’t have that opportunity and that’s why I pay homage to it every time I get asked this question because I literally woke up and was apart of it every day of my life and was able to see a lot of these things that you go to school for. I continue to feel incredibly lucky for that. That’s why I’m in the realm of things that I’m in now because I’ve always been there.
YBP: That is definitely some invaluable experience that you received at the hands of your parents. Do you ever have people come to you and say, ‘well you’ve always been immersed in this type of field, so how does someone without this type of background get that type of information to move forward in their own dreams of entrepreneurship?’
JJ: I do get that question. I’m not saying that everything I’ve learned or gained was from the home. A good portion of it and a great foundation was there, but I also took time to step outside of that and go and gather information from a number of resources and people who I admired who were playing in the spaces I wanted to play in, just to be able to get that 360 view of everything.
There are still opportunities to learn. You’re always learning. I have the opportunity to go and speak in lots of different places, but I continue to study other speakers. I continue to watch people who are able to convey a message, whoever those people are. I continue to read their books and things like that to gain that insight.
My advice to someone who is looking to get their passion on the go and start realizing that, is to find people who are doing what you see yourself doing or in the area of what you want to go into because if those people are successful, they’re obviously doing something right. Humble yourself and go to those people with an earnest approach. Humility is the key, especially when you are seeking information and earnestly wanting to become better.
YBP: One last question, do you have any projects or anything that you’re excited about with U-ology?
JJ: One of the biggest things we’re excited about putting out is, we’re right now about to re-launch the website. It will be a really engaging space and merging a lot of the worlds that I’m apart of which is lifestyle, culture and also making it conducive to the social media world that we’re apart of, so, there’s going to be a lot of dialogue, sharing of information. I’m really pumped about putting our blog into the world, where I’ll be able to communicate my thoughts and things like that from a U-ology 101 standpoint to the people that follow the movement. I’m excited about where this thing is going to take us.
We’re coming to Ottawa in the next couple of months and we’re going to be out in the west coast. I’m looking forward to going on the road and meeting a ton of new people and sharing information that’s going to help me and help other people, just building. I’m looking forward to meeting people and hearing about their initiatives too and seeing how we can build with each other. I’m pumped. I’m really living out a dream right now.
We’ve created something that people are gravitating towards and I’m so humbled by that. For me to be anything less than excited about what’s to come would be insane. Just the mere fact I’m able to dialogue with you guys and spread this message to your members and your members back to me I just think it’s a beautiful thing and I’m really excited about 2011.
YBP: Thank you very much and we’re excited too. We are actually very excited about partnering in the near future. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us and telling us about U-ology 101, this amazing journey that you’re on with this project. I love that you’re doing this work and bringing this conversation to our youth.
JJ: Thank you very much and hello to all your members.
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