12 min read ⌚
How to Create & Cultivate the Career of Your Dreams
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life” – said Confucius or Harvey Mackay, or someone else whose name nobody remembers.
Whoever said it was right – at least that’s what Jaclyn Johnson’s believes. And she believes in this so much that she feels that the word for “job” should combine both labor and passion, and should sound something like this:
Who Should Read “WorkParty”? And Why?
Written by one of the hottest female entrepreneurs at the moment, Jaclyn Johnson, WorkParty is a book that primarily targets female would-be business leaders, a sort of an unintended sequel to Lean In (and, maybe, #GIRLBOSS).
So, if you enjoyed reading Sharyl Sandberg’s and Sophia Amoruso’s classics, you’d probably enjoy reading this one as well.
“WorkParty is a must-read for any woman looking to cultivate her passion, build her business and create the life she has always wanted, on her own terms,” wrote Rebecca Minkoff, and we fully stand by her recommendation.
In fact, we have nothing to add to it but a clarification via Refinery29’s review: “Whether you’re looking to turn your side hustle into your main gig or thrive in your corporate job, this is the book you need to take your career to the next level — on your own terms.”
About Jaclyn Johnson
Jaclyn Johnson is an American entrepreneur, the founder and CEO of Create & Cultivate.
Before that, she was also the founder and CEO of No Subject, a company she sold before her 28th birthday.
Dubbed a “Self-Made Woman” by LA Times and “A Woman of Note” by The Wall Street Journal, Johnson was also included, a few years ago, in Forbes’ highly coveted “30 Under 30” list (category: Marketing and Advertising).
Now 33, Johnson is also a bestselling author, WorkParty being her first, but already pretty successful book.
Find out more at http://jaclynrjohnson.com/.
“WorkParty PDF Summary”
Have you ever heard about Create & Cultivate, the “online community and conference for women looking to create & cultivate the career of their dreams”?
If so, this is a book by the woman who founded it.
Her name is Jaclyn Johnson, she’s 33, and, believe it or not, it’s not even her first successful company.
If you want to hear all about the secrets of her success, then, by all means, join us for a quick summary of her story and her tips & tricks – combined with at least a few by several other successful female entrepreneurs.
Follow them and, before too long, you might as well start enjoying your work or, to use Johnson’s coinage, workpartying.
To quote her at her motivational best:
Consider this my official invitation to you to start your own #workparty. Where creative and entrepreneurial women celebrate each other’s success. Where you can celebrate your own achievements because you are doing it all yourself, unabashedly, at the best bash the work place has ever known. Because, listen, the joy has been sucked out of our careers for far too long. And we’re bringing it back. Who said business had to be boring?
Failure Is What Success Stories Are Built Upon: Jaclyn Johnson’s Story
“By the time I was thirty-two,” writes Jaclyn Johnson’s in the “Introduction” of WorkParty, “I had sold a company, launched a much-buzzed about new one, bought my first home, found the love of my life, and had a million ups and downs in between. How? By turning distrust into determination, frustration into fuel, and heartache into hard work.”
“Oh, yeah,” she adds instantly, “and that determination, fuel, and hard work? It can be so. much. fun.”
An Influencer Before Influencers Even Existed
Even though born in the mid-1980s, Jaclyn Johnson has been a professional blogger/influencer for over a decade and a half. That’s right: she was using theoretical hashtags before real hashtags were invented, she was a blogger before blogs became a thing, she made money out of the internet in the (as she calls it) PE-world (the pre-exclamation, pre-emoji age).
“I had happened into a career in a little something called ‘social media’ five years before it would hit the mainstream,” she writes in the first chapter. “I was a boss at Blogspot, I was tweeting on Tweeter, I was posting on forums (I know, #LOL), and I had a blog.”
Even though having a blog doesn’t sound that remarkable nowadays, back in 2007 it was not only “a rare thing,” but also quite a chic-thing as well. The blog was called Some Notes on Napkin (SNON) and was a mix of “cut-out editorial collages… put together in PowerPoint,” trends Jaclyn was loving, places to eat, playlists, outfit inspirations. etc. etc. A sort of a LiveJournal of Johnson’s 20s, “an archive of inspiration, trends, and makers” she had her eye on.
Apparently, a lot of people were reading SNON (3,000 a day!) and it wasn’t that difficult for Johnson to get a job at Attention, now a preeminent global communications firm, but then just a start-up ahead of its time.
Johnson was employee #3 and was responsible for social media – you know, before anybody knew what that actually meant. In fact, at Attention, they called it “word-of-mouth marketing.” “Social media as we know and heart it today wasn’t really a thing,” remembers Johnson, “which means there was no snap, tag, or share yet. But there was Twitter, Facebook, blogging, and forums – all things I was familiar with and good at.”
“Influencers,” goes on Johnson, “if you don’t already know, (mainly) started as bloggers – the girls taking outfit of the day (#OUTD) photos, DIYers, and the like – who turned their blogs into bona fide businesses… We – the influencers – had immediately seen the potential in this digital world. And because I understood the world from both the blogging end and the marketing end, I knew I was capable.”
Going Up and Down… and Up Again
And, indeed, Johnson was capable, so soon enough she was poached by a company larger than Attention, IAC (an acronym for InterActiveCorp), and tasked with leading their “social media” efforts across multiple businesses – but mainly their startup Pronto (a now-defunct Amazon competitor).
And, boy, what an upgrade this was: the job, Johnson tells us, “came with a director title, a six-figure salary… an unlimited snack section and a built-in espresso bar.” And it was in New York, New York. Life couldn’t be better, right?
Well, it was so… for some time.
But then the dot-com bubble burst and the recession hit. Everybody around Johnson started losing their job and when one day she was called in for a meeting with the IAC’s CEO, she knew she was getting the ax.
Surprisingly she was wrong: she was instead offered a new job at a sister company called CitySearch (“think Yelp’s older, unrulier brother”). Even though this meant traveling across state to LA, Johnson accepted the job.
However, a female executive at CitySearch didn’t like what she was doing; in fact, in a way, she didn’t like the fact that the world in which she excelled was changing. Long story short, due to the female executive’s preference for older soon-to-be-completely-out-of-date marketing methods (and her dislike of Johnson’s no-nonsense, in-yer-face and “aggressive” emails) fired Jaclyn.
Still upbeat, Johnson tried to turn this closed door into an open window and at an age where most of us are still finding our way through college, she launched a promising company with a trusted business partner. Everything was going great until she discovered that her business partner (it’s a she once again) had made some “detrimental decisions” for the company without her knowledge.
A “brutal business breakup” followed – the second massive blow in a fairly short time.
Johnson was 24… and unwilling to give up.
In the next eight years, she managed to sell the company, build a new (and even more successful) one, and add another digit to the six-figure salary of her IAC days. And she enjoyed every single minute of that!
How to WorkParty: Jaclyn Johnson’s Guidebook
How, you ask?
Well, by being aware that the “work hard” interpretation of the American Dream she was raised on can be modified to suit better the feelings of our age. As she writes:
WorkParty = the New American Dream. Or, rather, that’s what I’m proposing. What I mean is: WorkParty is the hard work that the American Dream is based on, but driven by passion rather than necessity. When you’re workpartying, you don’t clock in or out, but tune into every minute because you are a part of something you love.
However, Jaclyn Johnson wants you to know from the outset that she’s not the Wolf of Wall Street or Toni Robbins and that neither her office is filled “with streamers and champagne” nor she has some grand theory of life that she wants to impart on her followers through WorkParty.
She just wants to share the lessons she learned and the advice she wishes she’d gotten when she was:
• 21 and at her first major job;
• 24, “bright-eyed and a bit naïve,” launching her first business company with a partner;
• 28, and “striking out” on her own;
• or even 30, “having created and cultivated a community of over five hundred thousand women.”
And here are some of these lessons:
• Build a reputation. Make your goal to become the person your colleagues recommend when they go to work at another company: especially at the start of your career, cultivating relationships with your colleagues makes all the difference.
• Networking is part of the job. Being nice to people and contacting them from time to time always pays off: it’s not only a career-builder but also a career-keeper – even when you make it.
• Talk about money with your partners. Misunderstandings are often the result of not talking. And money misunderstandings are the worst. So, talk about money with your business partners openly and candidly before venturing into something bigger.
• Document and understand all of your agreements. Handshakes don’t matter: an agreement is an agreement only when put on paper and notarized. If the court says so, you should as well.
• Encourage intrapreneurship. Treat everything as a real business – even if it looks like a creative sideline at the beginning. Who knows what that might grow into in the end?
The Ten Basic Rules for Pitching Your Business
Knowing how to pitch your business to a potential client is not exactly something one is born with. Johnson offers ten pieces of advice on how to develop this all-important skill:
#1. Start with writing down and memorizing a couple of sentences that talk about what your company does.
#2. Look for connections with the people who are in the room before making the pitch to them.
#3. Understand your competition and prepare for market-related questions.
#4. Never forget to define how your company is different from the others, and, thus, can better fill a certain “whitespace,” i.e., the place “where unmet and unarticulated needs are uncovered to create innovation opportunities.
#5. Understand the company you’re pitching to: stats, campaign, analyses.
#6. “Read the room:” change the topic if you notice the attention of your listeners waning.
#7. If you’re seated, stand up and demonstrate your presence.
#8. Include case histories and testimonials from past clients.
#9. Say your fees out loud and without hesitation.
#10. If you’re making the pitch with colleagues, synchronize: contradicting your colleagues is one of the worst things you can do during pitching.
The Six Types of Employees Your Company Needs (and How to Hire Them)
According to Jaclyn Johnson, there are six types of employees every start-up needs to succeed:
#1. The visionary: usually and preferably the CEO, this is the individual who sees both the big picture and the tiny essentials and moves rapidly toward success, with purpose and determination.
#2. The closer: this one is the individual who brings experience from other areas and who is organized and quick-witted enough to solve most problems that inevitably come along the way.
#3. The unicorn: the social connector, the energy provider, the one everybody loves for who he is, i.e., the hard worker who does everything with a smile and while caring for his colleagues.
#4. The no-nonsense type: the one who isn’t a suck-up to the boss and who is willing to say everything to their face, even if it’s unpleasant.
#5. The heart: the one who prefers to help their colleagues than get credit for his work.
#6. The pistol: the one who doesn’t wait for permission to do something they feel right – even if that means regretting afterward.
If you want to gather your all-star team, these few tips & tricks will definitely help you:
• Advertise the job with common, searchable words, rather than using unique and catchy titles.
• Hire only someone who sees your company as a good fit for him – and not merely if it’s the other way around.
• Speaking of good fit: don’t hire someone who doesn’t know that much about the industry your company is in.
• Find someone who laughs and seems positive under pressure.
• Be honest with your new hires regarding everything, including possible pay rises and potential for upward mobility.
• After the interview, ask yourself whether you could spend a few hours stranded with your new hire in an airport.
• While on the topic, don’t hire your friends: statistically, instead of contributing to the perfect work environment, this only leads to problems and difficulties.
• Set up a three-month trial period and at least one in-depth review after a year for your new hire.
• If things don’t work out after the first or second milestone, don’t give your new hire a second chance: fire them before it becomes even more complicated to do so.
Key Lessons from “WorkParty”
1. The New American Dream
2. It’s a Man’s World – and Women Should Do Something About It
3. There Are More Than One Possible Path to Greatness
The New American Dream
You know what the old American dream is all about: work hard and inevitably success will come.
However, as Johnson learned the hard way, there’s also nepotism, political preference and all kinds of things that hard work cannot overcome that easily.
So, she offers an alternative to the old vision of the American dream: the WorkParty version.
WorkParty means nothing more but working hard and with passion. That way, even if it doesn’t work out in the end, you’ll have no regrets – because you’ll have enjoyed every single minute of your failure. And in that case, it’s not really a failure, is it?
It’s a Man’s World – and Women Should Do Something About It
Unfortunately, gender bias is a real thing – and it’s something that has kept women out of the workplace for centuries. And even today, when there are so many successful women around, women don’t advance in their careers because of gender bias.
In Jaclyn Johnson’s experience, there’s an even worse side to this bad side of the coin: sometimes, a woman’s success is hampered not only by men but also by other women. “Behind every great woman are great women,” she writes suggesting that women should really do something about this because they need to help each other and not get in each other’s ways.
So, consequently, there are two things women need to do to add a W and an O before the syntagma “man’s world”: 1. to stop feeling the paralyzing imposter syndrome; 2. to turn to inspiring and successful women as their role models; 3. to discuss their experiences and be there for each other as often as possible – there are more men than women at leading positions, so if they don’t stand for each other, they will be quickly overridden.
There Is More Than One Possible Path to Greatness
“No truly successful entrepreneur these days has followed some preordained path to success,” writes Jaclyn Johnson. “There is no ‘right.’ There’s only saying yes, figuring it out, and knowing there will only be a few bumps along the way.”
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“WorkParty Quotes”The evidence is overwhelming that collaboration makes you more opportunities. Click To Tweet We leaned in, and now we are standing up. We are redefining work for a new generation of women who want it all and more, and guess what? They can have it and so can you. Click To Tweet If you want to succeed, you have to be able to break from tradition fearlessly and sometimes recklessly and sometimes while feeling genuinely uncomfortable with everyone telling you no. Click To Tweet WorkParty is the hard work that the American Dream is based on, but driven by passion rather than necessity. Click To Tweet The joy has been sucked out of our careers for far too long. And we’re bringing it back. Who said business had to be boring? Click To Tweet
Our Critical Review
According to Chelsea Handler, “WorkParty hilariously and oftentimes heartbreakingly captures the real struggles of being a risk-taking woman in the modern world. It’s a much-needed combo of real talk, confessions and lessons learned along the way – it’s sure to leave you ready to tackle, or give a middle-finger, to any obstacle in your way.”
And, indeed, beyond all the hashtags and unnecessary pop-culture references, it will probably achieve just that. And that’s not because (as Refinery 29 wrote) “in WorkParty, Jaclyn Johnson generously shares the secrets to her success: be nice, take risks, and work your butt off,” but because of who Jaclyn Johnson is: a 33-year-old female entrepreneur with an inspiring story.
The fact that her story is combined deftly in WorkParty with the stimulating stories of many other women who move the world around – Christene Barberich, Alli Webb, Morgan Debaun, Jen Gotch, Rebecca Minkoff, and Kendra Scott – makes it an even more “if-we-did-it-you-can-too” type-of-a-book.
So, do it!