How One Female Founder Used Imposter Syndrome to Her Advantage When Starting Her Company

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Jojo Aquino is a positive & high energy person that enjoys challenges & having fun. She’s a traveler who loves her work and takes it with her wherever she goes. She’s a social media manager at Piña Social Media, a company she founded, and a blogger at Traveling Petite Girl, a travel blog she created to share travel tips and guides with female travelers.

WHAT KIND OF PROBLEM IS YOUR COMPANY SOLVING?

Even though social media is everywhere, not all businesses take advantage of it, especially small businesses, so they end up missing out on huge potential markets. It turns out most business owners don’t have time to manage their social media accounts or don’t have it figured out. So what my company does is offer social media management services to relieve business owners of the burden of social media so that they can have extra time to focus on larger businesses tasks, family, health, hobbies  and etc. It offers them access to live much more balanced lives while still growing their businesses.

WHAT DID THOSE FIRST STEPS LOOK/FEEL LIKE? (FOR EXAMPLE: THE FIRST 6 MONTHS)

Creating the brand, building the website, and creating the structures for the business was easy. I’d done this many times before with all the business ideas I had that didn’t follow through. What really had me scared was the next and most important step, selling my services. I gave myself a deadline to book my first client within 6 weeks so that I could leave my 9-5 job as a secretary. I actually booked a 3-week trip at the end of 6 weeks and promised myself, “By 6 weeks, I’m leaving my job and getting on this plane. I need to have a client by this time so that I can still support myself while traveling.” (My goal was to work while traveling as a social media manager.) I messaged more than a hundred people, hopped on countless phone calls, walked into several meetings and drafted various proposals. It was a process I was really anxious about because I was doing it all for the first time. Plus, here I was, selling my services when I didn’t have any previous client work to show these people. 

It’s true when they say real growth only happens outside of the comfort zone. For 6 weeks, I was living outside of it. I was anxious. I barely slept. I got sick. I had all these weird body sensations that you only get when you’re uncomfortable. And it was all worth it. Word had gotten around about who I was and what I do that within 4 weeks, I booked my first client. Within 5 weeks, I received 2 job offers that I had to decline because it didn’t allow me freedom to travel. And within 6 weeks, I presented at a conference for 120+ entrepreneurs as a social media manager. The 6 weeks was a huge whirlwind and though it was the scariest for me, I had the most fun. It’s not fun unless you’re scared right?

WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST CONTRIBUTION TO THE SUCCESS YOU'VE HAD THUS FAR?

Aside from my family and partner being huge supporters, the biggest contributions were my travel blog, Traveling Petite Girl, where I learned how to create and market a brand through social media, the online course, Social Media United, where I learned how to set up my social media management business, and the leadership program, the Team Management & Leadership Program, where I learned the mindset & skills needed to be a leader and entrepreneur.

DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE FAILURE? WHAT LESSONS DID YOU LEARN?

I have so many to choose from! I have a few failures of business ideas that didn’t follow through but I’d like to step out of the career box and talk about one of my more draining struggles: a romantic relationship that turned abusive. I won’t go into detail (You can read the full story here) but healing and growing from a toxic relationship was a process that required a lot of self-awareness, self-love, and strength I never thought I was capable of. I learned many lessons from the experience but the biggest lesson I learned was realizing that I was much more stronger and deserving than I knew myself to be, and I was bullshitting myself when I believed otherwise.

HOW DO YOU DEFINE LEADERSHIP? OR, WHAT DOES BEING A LEADER MEAN TO YOU?

A leader is someone who is willing to be vulnerable and weak in front of others. They own up to their mistakes and failures and aren’t afraid of looking bad in front of their team. Vulnerability makes leaders authentic, humble, and most importantly, approachable; all of which are needed to inspire morale, boost creativity, and build strong relationships with their team. A leader knows they don’t have all the answers so they encourage creativity and innovation by letting their team show up and take the lead. This is the basis of how I like to define my leadership.

DO YOU HAVE A MENTOR? HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT ACQUIRING ONE?

I’ve had a quite a few. All my mentors were women in creative leadership roles. I met all  these women through networking and talked to them about what I was up to in my career and they took me under their wings. It was awesome!

WHAT SHOULD WOMEN BE DOING MORE OF TO FOSTER LEADERSHIP SKILLS?

The most direct way I fostered my leadership skills was by attending leadership programs and this is what I highly suggest. Leadership programs give structure and support to lead teams. One of the leadership programs I attended was Landmark’s Team Management and Leadership Program. It’s a worldwide program that I recommend for anyone who is entrepreneurial and wants start a business or for someone who wants to learn how to lead teams in the workplace. Actually, it’s a program I recommend for anyone who wants develop the skills to create any life they want.

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU'RE FEELING "OVERWHELMED"?

When I feel overwhelmed, it usually means I’ve been doing too much work, I haven’t been channeling my creativity, or I haven’t taken time to take care of my physical and mental well-being. So I’d outsource the work that can be completed by others, focus on the work that could only be completed by me, film & edit videos or design something to channel my creativity, and get my nails done, get a massage, and hangout with my friends. 

WHAT IS ONE QUOTE YOU LIVE YOUR LIFE BY?

 “I can have it all.” What that means for me is that I can have a successful career, a loving family, deep friendships, the body of my dreams, and a devoted, hot lover. All at the same time! It’s also the vision of my business: for business owners to have it all!

WHAT ARE YOU READING RIGHT NOW?

I like to read one book in the day that teaches me something and another other book on my downtime that’s either a funny autobiography or a trashy romance novel. I’m currently reading “The Four Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferris and just finished reading “Why Not Me?” by Mindy Kaling. I’m now in search for a trashy romance novel to satisfy my trashy romance fantasies haha!

Have you ever felt imposter syndrome, and how did you combat it?

ALL. THE. TIME. When I started my business, I felt like an imposter parading around as a social media marketer. I thought people would find out I was an imposter because I didn’t have any formal background in marketing. The way I combatted it was by continuing to be in action. Actually, whenever imposter syndrome hit, I used that as a signal. It meant I was expanding in my leadership or business, and I was headed in the right direction. I use impostor syndrome to my advantage and keep going.

IF YOU HAD ONE TIP OR LIFE ADVICE, OR MANTRA TO SHARE, WHAT WOULD IT BE? 

“Nothing happens when you’re comfortable.” This is what I tell myself to step out of my comfort zone. And when I feel uncomfortable and scared, I’m in the right place.

ANY THING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO INCLUDE?

Yes! I love having a calendar handy on the lock screen of my phone so every month, I design a calendar background and include a quote of the month to live by. I shared last month’s design with my followers and I’ve been receiving reminders from them to post this month’s calendar design. Here’s the one for September 2018!

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