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58: The Power of Storytelling with Jenny Jay

Sharing your story with the world can seem underwhelmingly, kind of overwhelming. You’re saying nobody wants to hear my story. Who’s actually going to read it? What if they judge me or say something negative online? Being vulnerable and putting yourself out there takes gutsy off its own. But when you do, the power starts to unfold.

LauraAura
Today we’re talking about the power of storytelling. And to do that, I have the most amazingly talented Jenny J. Jenny is the founder and visionary behind the Double J Collective, a photography and videography studio specializing in storytelling for personal, wedding, commercial, and brand work. Known for her terrible puns, her tendency to travel the world, and her passion for great storytelling, she spends her days and nights creating and living. Jenny, I’m super excited to have you, Welcome to the gutsy podcast!

Jenny
Hello. Hello. Thank you so much for having me!

LauraAura
Absolutely. So I have to I have to know about these terrible puns and jokes.

Jenny
Okay, So if we dive right into their honestly when I first started my own personal brand, um, that’s all I wanted anyone to know about me. I was like, Everyone just needs to know I like puns and they’re terrible and they’re awful. And I will die laughing to myself, and I’m okay with that. So So that’s very that’s where the puns come from.

LauraAura
I love it. Do you have, like, do you have, like, a go to one? Do you have a favorite one?

Jenny
I have like, it’s a really, really bad joke, and I heard it on suits. I think it’s on, like the end of season three. And, uh, Mike, is it? He says it, to, I can’t remember her name, ut Megan Marco, it’s really bad joke, though.

LauraAura
I mean, I mean, we’ve set the bar, so we have to tell a really bad joke now.

Jenny
So ah, a doe walks out of a forest and says, “That’s the last time I do that for two bucks.”

LauraAura
Oh, that’s great. That’s it. They I could appreciate this. This is really funny.

Jenny
That that’s that’s my go to. And if you’re not Canadian or American, it’s really hard for you to get it, because I don’t think anyone else uses the flame, but so, yeah, you

LauraAura
know, that’s hilarious. Look, I if we can if we can’t laugh at ridiculous things and at ourselves and like, what is this life. So I’m I’m curious. Thank you so much for sharing. That was hilarious. I am curious. So, like, tell me your entrepreneurial story. Like, how did you get into photography and videography like, what’s the back story?

Jenny
So the back story is a super interesting one. So I remember being 13 years old the very first time that I was really just kind of playing around with the idea of photography as a career, Um, and. So at my middle school, we have something called like Discovery Week at the end of the year. Um, and when you were in great 6, 7 and 8, you could choose, like, one week, and it was no classes. You could choose whatever like program, um, activity you wanted to do, and the whole school like partook in it. And so they had different things. So you could go to Montreal for the week. You could go to Niagara Falls for the week. You could do volleyball for a week, you could do scrapbooking. And there was one that was like a photography one. And I remember being 13 years old, and I really wanted to do the photography one. And at the time, we only had one really awful film camera. Like it wasn’t even the nice DSLR film cameras. It was just like shitty…

LauraAura
Yes. Yeah. Oh, you’re in safe place. You could drop the bombs here. Okay?

Jenny
It was really It was rough. And so I remember going to my parents and I don’t really understand necessarily the concepts of their mean money and and what we had at the time. And I just remember saying like, I really want to do this. We get to go to the Toronto Zoo and to Niagara Falls, and we’re gonna take all these photos. What if I become a photographer one day? Like I cannot work with whatever you’ve got here. So we need to get a camera. And I remember my dad like we went to the best buy and my dad looked at me and was like, are you really gonna be a photographer? I was like, yeah dad!

LauraAura
Absolutely. Of course, I am!

Jenny
So he bought it like Sony Cybershot like, seven megapixel camera, which now sounds ridiculous. Um, another time, it was like $100-$180 which was a lot of money for my family at the time, and that was oh, in a way, it was the start of something. Um, but it kind of kept. There were pieces throughout my childhood and throughout my teenage years that really were like, this form of storytelling is something that I really love and I think at the root of it, like in talking about storytelling that’s been there from the get go. I remember being six years old, and I wrote the short story called Stinky Cindy. It was about a very smelly princess named Cindy, obviously inspired by Cinderella, and she had a smelly cow. And I wrote this little fairy tale of this person who just wasn’t liked because she just didn’t take a bath. And like these concepts of storytelling, whether it was through writing, whether it was through making little video edits, whether it was like playing with my uncle’s camcorder or trying to understand the world of photography, they all just kind of were there throughout and I think it really all came together when I got to university, and I knew that I loved this. I was already working at my student newspaper and I wanted to go into multimedia.

Jenny
And I was 19 when I had a migraine induced stroke. So yeah, so the left side of my body was completely paralyzed. I was just living and working in the Yukon and because I found a job in the Yukon, and that’s where I was. And after that happened, I was like, I know I was really young. Um, but I think when you’re that young, you think you’re gonna live forever. You think you can eat whatever. You think, you can do whatever. And it’s okay because life isn’t gonna start for at least another five years, right? And for me having that entire experience, it was kind of like, if this is it, if this is all that I’m given and I have just waited and I continue to wait for the time that everyone as as a whole is gonna tell me that my life is going to begin, I don’t think there’s any way for me to live. Um, So I started taking it super seriously after that happened at 19 and like at 20 is when I first registered my own business and just kind of started taking it from there.

LauraAura
Unbelievable. Wow, that’s, um may I mean, I just love it, You know, I think the entrepreneurial journey is is so absolutely fascinating because some people are still trying to figure out what that one thing is. And other people, it has just been like seeping out of their pores essentially since the day they were born. So I love hearing that, like photography and storytelling has basically always been a part of your life. And, you know, when you’re faced with that adversity, like it puts a lot of stuff in perspective, right? Like, what are we actually waiting for?

Jenny
Exactly. And for me, I think what was the hardest part, and I never really understood it until now that everything always leads up to, like, the bigger picture. Um, and what I was really, really struggling with throughout is the fact that I love writing. I was writing poetry since I was kid. I love photography. I absolutely love, like working with video, and it just felt like there were too many things and I was constantly being told, you need to pick one. That you should either just be a photographer or just go into, like, film or just be a writer. There was no person that was saying that there was any way to mix all of them together and to actually create a world and a career out of it. And I think that realization was the part that was the hardest for me that, no, there are ways you can do it and in a weird sort of way, I know we talk about storytelling, and it becomes almost like a buzzword in the concepts of branding and marketing. Um, but storytelling really is about that bigger story as a hole and it doesn’t matter what medium you’re using to deliver that message.

LauraAura
Uh, I love it. So I’m curious because, you know, much like even the word branding, which you know, can seem like kind of one of those cloud words. I’m curious what storytelling means to you and how that is portrayed.

Jenny
So for me, it is really and truly the power of using whatever either experiences or feelings that come from a certain place and using that feeling to inspire other people to feel into action. So That’s the way that I see it. Because the power of stories, yes, is to share history, like from a very, um from a very historical perspective storytelling, an oral storytelling with how we treasured and how we held onto our history. And now, as we get into the modern day world, storytelling is actually the means and methods to still, um, empower people. And to have people empathize with whatever it is that you’re trying to to share, right? And when it comes to like taking that into a very commercial setting, let’s say, um, for me, powerful storytelling looks like being able to explain why people do what they do or why people create the product that they’ve created or why people are getting up in the morning to do the things that they do and hopefully if you tell that story in a really good way, it empowers the listener or the viewer or the person consuming that story to to do something about it. Whether it’s to engage with that brand or whether it’s to say, Wow, I could do the same thing, too, in my own life. It empowers them into action when you hear good stories,

LauraAura
It’s so true. And I think one of the most powerful aspects of storytelling is it humanizes things and it makes people sa,y Okay, well, this person, you form almost a relationship whether you know this person or not like when you hear a really great story, your soul is touched and when that person calls you to action or invites you to come to something or want you to be part of something, that movement into action is cut in like a fraction

Jenny
Exactly. It just it just makes the whole problem. You want to be a part of the process because you know their story. You know who they are, you know, maybe like a part of what has led them to doing the things that they’re doing now. So absolutely. And I think in a whole different world, coming from someone who was also really deep in the work of advocacy and that realm. Storytelling is also one of the strongest ways for people within marginalized communities to get heard, because often there is a very real barrier to change because not enough money or dollars or resources have been spent on getting the right statistics when it comes to people of color and their experiences and your lives. Our marginalized communities as a whole, and their experiences in their lives. So sometimes there aren’t even the statistics there to show and to prove that action needs to happen and the best ways to again motivate people into action is by simply having people who are ready and courageous and powerful, and able to tell and share their stories.

LauraAura
Uh, I love it. I’m thinking about so this is kind of a silly example. But, um, we have American Idol, and I can I can think of like when we watch that show at home. You know, the when they start to get narrow people down and they start showing like the stories of where the where the contestants come from and what their family circumstances are or what challenges they’ve overcome to actually get there. And you start to form, you know, a relationship with this person. You’ve never met them, and you may never. But now you’re, like, personally invested in this person because you know something about them. They’re not just a singer to you anymore. Now they’re a person.

Jenny
Yeah, and that’s what makes you again inspired into action, I conspired to get your phone out and vote for them.

LauraAura
To vote for them. Yeah, it’s crazy. I think that storytelling is is around us more than maybe we even realize. But when you start really breaking it down like it’s part of our everyday life.

Jenny
Absolutely. Yeah.

LauraAura
So I know that some people get really worried about sharing their story like, is it too much? Is it not enough? So I’m curious from your perspective. What are some key elements that you see being effective in storytelling?

Jenny
So one thing that I’m not gonna quote my friend, cause she’s the one who said this so eloquently and I hold this really close to me. And this is from a friend, Jessica. She’s the connection collective on Instagram, if you want to look her up later. But she said, ah, that when you are still in the story, it is not the right time to share it.

LauraAura
Oh!!!

Jenny
You can’t be in it. You’ve got to be, you gotta wait till you’re out. You see it. You healed. You’ve taken a look at the whole story. You know the picture and like, that’s when you should be sharing. And I could not agree with that more because when things are because life and stories, they get messy and sometimes it’s easy to want to share when we’re in it, because it’s cathartic and it might be healing. But in my opinion, when it comes to you pairing storytelling like that with, let’s save the overall marketing of your personal brand and you know things like that, that’s when you you wait, you’d share your story with, like, your therapist, your friends, the people who you need as your support system. And then when you’re finally out of it, take a deep look and you say, Okay, what parts of sharing this story is actually gonna empower people? Because I find that sometimes in the in the nitty gritty of, like, really wanting to be vulnerable and sharing stories, uh, sometimes it can end up being just like on outpouring of emotion, and it’s not directed anywhere, right? And when it’s not directed anywhere, then it sometimes can be instead of motivating, it can be really heavy on the listener. And if it’s heavy on the listener and they don’t know what action they should do, like I don’t think that is a good transference of energy. Right? And powerful storytelling is to be able to transfer energy in a way that inspires the next person who’s listening to kind of do the same.

LauraAura
And that’s such an important reason why wait, like if you’re in it, why not to start sharing that now because when you’re in, you know, when you’re in the trenches, emotions are heightened both good and bad. Um, and honestly, you don’t necessarily have all the perspective, right? So once you are like once you have lived that chapter of your life, you can look back and tell the story. Maybe with or without getting emotional, but from a different perspective. And you have, like, knowledge now. Like, I learned something, this is what I learned from that. And this is what I want to give to you.

Jenny
Yep. Exactly. Whereas if I were I mean anything that I’m still in, I’m always just like Okay, it’s gonna be a great story for later.

LauraAura
Oh, my gosh, You do the same thing.

Jenny
I know. Give it 12 months, it’ll be fine and then I’ll share this. Then I’ll know what I’m supposed to know from this. That would that would be a key, key takeaway.

LauraAura
I’m a huge, huge, huge advocate for like calling that stuff out and knowing, like using that for power. Like when something is going really crazy or, you know, like you’re having a really tough time in your business or something’s going on personally or just whatever is happening like in that moment, recognizing and being able to, like, stop and say, You know what? This is part of something that I need to learn, and I get to share knowledge later. Like it may suck really bad right now, but I’m I’m doing something very valuable that my future self and other people are going to need.

Jenny
Exactly 100%. Yes, yes.

LauraAura
So the other thing is, when we mix in, you know, storytelling with business. I think sometimes business owners are really fragile about like, how much of my personal life do I put out there? How behind the scenes should I let people know, like, how do you help people gauge how to integrate storytelling with when they’re like the business owner?

Jenny
So the way that I see that is so what I’ve done is when I started creating and really understanding, like my own personal brand and who I am as a business owner, is that at the end of the day and you learned this when you learn documentary, film or filmmaking as a whole, everyone that you choose to insert into the story that is your life, everyone that you truth to share is inevitably going to become a character in the story that you’re telling. All right. So if you understand the concept of story telling you, let’s say as a novel, because that’s easy to break down, um, every single person or place or thing that you right into that book. That’s a part of that story. Um, and you get to choose as the person who is deciding what to share. You get to choose what you want to be a part of that world.

Jenny
So for me, one of the first things I did when I really knew I wanted to share more about my life and who I was and what I was doing it I kind of wrote down my non-negotiables of things I never wanted to share online. So I know that there are certain members of my family that you will probably never see on my social media. Um, at least like outside of Facebook, like you on my instagram and anything public in terms of building that story of who I am and what is it that I do, you’re not going to see my sister. You’re not gonna see my dad. You’re not gonna see any of that unless it actually directly relates and they’re not main characters in my story, right? So I have my boundaries and my nonnegotiable of things that I’m willing to share and think that I think work towards building the bigger story that I’m telling. So one of the things is that I work with my partner, Darcy. Um, and he is now a big part of the story of me as a full time photographer and videographer and what it means to do this work as like two people of color living our lives, living our world, and he is such a main character in my world. And I’ve been I’m very okay with that. And my nonnegotiable is that when it comes to us with our individual families and the time that we spend with them, that’s that’s off the books that doesn’t get to be shared.

Jenny
So I think what we sometimes fail to do properly when we want to, you know, be vulnerable and and share stories and when we’re business owners and we’re trying to navigate that, is that sometimes we forget that more does not always mean quality. Um, and that these boundaries that we set like we need to set them. And that’s what’s actually going to make it stronger, because the story will never have every single piece of every single person’s life, right? Um, it will center around like the main, the main idea, the main plot. The main thing that you’re trying a showcase at the main adversity or the main. A story will always be centered around the people and the main things that they’re navigating. So I think starting off with figuring out what those boundaries are, and once you have that, like, just keep building on that. It’s okay if your business owner to share about you know, your life as a mom if that’s a part of your business. And if what you’re eating for lunch today has nothing to do with your building that story of, um, your life as a business owner or like the business that you run, then maybe that doesn’t make sense. Um, where is for me like my life, sitting in a car, constantly driving from shoot to shoot? That makes sense because that’s that’s legitimately part of our lives. Like going from place to place and shoot tissue, right? So I think it comes down to also, really, if you really think about who your characters are in terms of even setting in space, as well as people in the story you decide to share,

LauraAura
I love this. So this has sparked, like a whole bunch of questions that I want to ask you.

Jenny
Ok, go for it!

LauraAura
I love, uh, I’m even learning, like right now looking at the different aspects, So I think that a lot of people may think like storytelling is like I’m sitting down and like, quite literally telling you about a journey of my life versus like telling this story through, I’m going to use Instagram is a platform because I know that you’re you’re super active on it. And guys, if you want to have, like, a drool worthy grid, please go to Jenny’s Instagram because it’s gonna make you want to throw your phone out the window like it’s that good. So tell me the little bit of the difference between because, like, I know that you’re you’re taking video where people actually like be telling a story, but then also telling the story through, like your ongoing marketing through your brand. That’s fascinating to me.

Jenny
Yes. Oh, so the way that I that the way that I navigate it, is you have every piece of content, Let’s say, like if your brand or person like a personal brand as a whole, every piece of content, no matter where it shows up, works towards building that bigger story that you’re trying to tell your audience. And the key part to know is that every single piece of content is building towards it, but not every single piece of content. Um, that everyone is not gonna consume every single piece of content that you put out there. So they all still have to chip away at that same story. Um, and you have to do it in a way that you could take one individual piece and that would still make sense. And if you could take the whole thing it would all make sense together, Almost like those TV shows where, like, like friends, it’s like friends, right? And you have every episode. That’s his own story. So again, like every every photo, every video, every time you’re literally hopping on stories, each piece on its own makes sense and each piece on its own should serve to share something or to tell something or to educate in a way. Whatever it is, it work towards that. And then, after watching the whole season all in one go, it should also all make sense together.

Jenny
Yes. Oh, so the way that I that the way that I navigate it, is you have every piece of content, Let’s say, like if your brand or person like a personal brand as a whole, every piece of content, no matter where it shows up, works towards building that bigger story that you’re trying to tell your audience, and the key part to know is that every single piece of content is building towards it, but not every single piece of content. Um, that everyone is not gonna consume every single piece of content that you put out there. So they all still have to chip away at that same story. Um, and you have to do it in a way that you could take one individual piece and that would still make sense. Come if you could take the whole thing. And it would all make sense together, Almost like those TV shows where, like, like friends, it’s like friends, right? And you have every episode. That’s his own story. So again, like every every photo, every video, every time you’re literally hopping on stories, each piece on its own makes sense and each piece on its own should serve to share something or to tell something or toe educating away. Whatever it is, it work towards that. And then, after watching the whole season all in one go, it should also all make sense together.

LauraAura
That makes total sense. Yes.

Jenny
So the way that I look at like my personal instagram feed, for example, if you get any one photo, um, not only use the photo going to feel the way I hope that you would feel when you meet me and but comes you’re through like the colors of the vibe and the way I choose to edit. But in the actual written word for every piece I want people to to see and feel and understand my heart and the way that I think, Um and then hopefully they all build and they build and they build and as that builds towards the image that, um, like the image of the person that I want to be in, that I believe that I am, people consent to feel that after consuming a little bit here and a little bit there and seeing another little bit there, if that all makes sense.

LauraAura
It makes complete sense and I love the friends analogy because A. I love friends and B. that’s a really palatable way to look at you know how things can be individual, but then how everything collectively is working together. And I think that this is this is really important to, you know, align back to your brand like your brand story. And you even mentioned things like, you know, your editing and how things aesthetically look like all these moving pieces and down to the way that you’re writing in the tone and the personality that comes through in your feed. Like that’s all part of your brand story.

Jenny
Yep, 100%. They go so hand in hand, it’s hard, if you really and truly understand branding, it’s hard to remove branding from storytelling because they really should be combined. And one of the same, Um, every good brand has a good story.

LauraAura
Amen sister! That needs to be on a billboard.

Jenny
Yeah, I’m here for it!

LauraAura
I love it. So I think another thing that people sometimes get a little bit tripped up on is, you know, when they want to tell a part of the story that was impactful for them. But it involves somebody that is still kind of in their life and not wanting to expose them but wanting to share a part of that story. So I’m curious if you have any suggestions on how to navigate that kind of sticky situation.

Jenny
I think it’s very circumstantial and I think it’s when you feel ready and also recognizing that when it involves other people that involves complexities like that. Um, are you also ready to deal with what may be very real backlash? Um, I know a writer, and she’s an amazing human being. And she wrote a book on her, her experience coming from Honduras and what it meant to grow up and experience like leaving and the journey to Canada and all of that. And there are huge complexities in this book, um, between her and her mother and the impact that it has genuinely had in their relationship in publishing this book, is real, is hard and it’s massive. And so while this book is powerful and you know, she has been able to amplify her voice and the voices of so many and sharing this, um, it doesn’t take away from the reality of, like, a relationship that has been impacted, right?

Jenny
And the same thing goes for documentaries, too, right? So there’s so many different facets of storytelling it that I love documentaries like by, my background, I’m a documentary filmmaker and the amount of people who share with these beautiful, incredible documentaries and whose lives were impacted after the sharing of that story. I know there was one documentary I watched that true false film festival this in 2019 and it’s on these undocumented immigrants in I think it’s Brussels, and two of the three people highlighted in there were arrested shortly after. And so it is really, really complex. So sometimes it’s not as not as heavy. Sometimes is not as deep, and sometimes it might be for you, right? So I think it’s like, are you actually ready to not only share the story but deal with what the aftermath might be? Because especially when it comes to things that are not fiction, like there are real people involved, real feelings and real repercussions.

LauraAura
Yeah, absolutely. I you know, it’s such a I think you said earlier. It’s such a case by case scenario like it’s this is not a one size fits all. There’s not like a solid answer. It’s But I love how you have just broken it down to, you know, are you are you ready for what could come back at you based off of whatever that situation is?

Jenny
And if you feel like you’re ready, then like by all means, like you’re you’re ready. I know for me. Um, like, they’re some stories that I know are easier to share the older that I get. And so I might be waiting to look like 35 to shares of the stories. You know what? That’s gonna be a good time. I’ll be ready to like I’m so far away from the story. I could tell it now.

LauraAura
You’ll be so marinated by then that it’s like second nature.

Jenny
Just fully marinated like lightning seasons. Like it’ll be juicy at 35.

LauraAura
Storytelling is such a huge part of my life as well. You know it. I just feel almost responsible? I don’t know if that’s maybe the right word, but I don’t know. The universe has given me the gift to say Okay, I’m gonna put you through these situations, and I want you to be the person that recognizes that this needs to be something that you can help other people with. So I get really vulnerable about a lot of things. And I can remember one of the very first times that I got insanely vulnerable. I was I was out of the situation. I had, you know, went through my healing process. But I shared that we had gone through bankruptcy, and that was a tremendously traumatic time for AJ and I. But on the other side, now it’s this powerful tool that, you know you can go through some really challenging stuff and still be successful on the other side. Like sometimes we think that these bad things define who we are, and that’s who we are for the rest of our lives. But, you know, maybe you’re actually just learning something really great that you can share with other people.

Jenny
Exactly. And I think like that’s an example of something that’s really, really great to be able to share like ones once you’ve healed, once he navigated it. And then when stories like that are shared, too. That’s when you also invite other people to do the same, to really recognize that they’re not alone in those experiences to start opening up and sharing about their own experiences. And the more you do actually have that connection and people relating and people sharing, that’s when you start to do the work in creating community and creating your network and creating people who really, really, like, just empathize and relate and want to be a part of whatever comes next for you. Right? So I think that’s really, really powerful.

LauraAura
Absolutely. I mean, I always tell people like I’m giving you the permission that you don’t need. Yeah, it only takes it takes one spearhead like right? The first of anything is the hardest because it’s unknown and nobody else has done it. And like you’re pioneering something. But when you break that ice, it always, always, always blows my mind how many people were like, Oh my gosh, me too! Oh, I understand all this happened like you create this, you create a safe space for people.

Jenny
Yeah, I think what you want to avoid, um, is so one of the things that I did a lot in university with spoken word poetry. I don’t know if you ever been to, like a poetry slam or anything along those lines.

LauraAura
I personally have not. I mean, I’ve seen them on the movies, but I can’t say that I’ve ever like physically been there.

Jenny
I used to perform a lot. I used to go to a lot of poetry slams like I was, I was that that artsy articulate and the one thing I would tell you tell people to avoid in storytelling is something that you actually see a lot at poetry slams and it’s trauma porn like for lack of any other word. It is sometimes what happens is that we think or understand that the more traumatic and the more intense the story, the better it is. And it just becomes like a weighing of or a sharing of Oh, here’s my trauma and here’s my trauma and there’s my trauma. And whose traumas the worst is the best story and it it’s so awful to think about that to say that. And sometimes I’ve never sitting in these poetry slams and just like shit like the world was awful!

LauraAura
Like everything is everything is terrible. Why am I here? Yeah,

Jenny
Everything is terrible. Everybody’s like it’s so much pain and we need to avoid that. So if there’s ways to delicately I would not even delicately but just really share in ways that are empowering and are are beneficial for the world. I always would recommend that.

Jenny
Well, I think the in kind of what we were talking about earlier is you know, if if you have had one of those scenarios because sometimes it’s just a situation Hey, here’s what I learned. But sometimes it is trauma, but, like, Okay, so if you’re going to take people down a road, you need to bring them back out into the light. So how did what did you learn? How can you apply this? Like, what advice can I give you? How do you avoid this type of situation? You know, like, really like setting people up for success? Because if you just take them down and then and then you’re like, OK, well, that was cool. I’m gonna go now like you’re gonna rock people’s worlds.

Jenny
Yeah, and they’re gonna be sitting like in the dark at the bottom of the rabbit hole with no flashlight and be like, I don’t I thought it was in a really bright condo downtown.

LauraAura
I thought we were gonna have a great time but now I’m really sad and I need tequila.

Jenny
So yeah. You definitely we definitely have to at the very least, provide people with resources. If we’re gonna do a form of storytelling that is heavy with, uh, with trauma and personal experience.

LauraAura
Got it. What are some of the biggest obstacles that you usually help to guide people through when they are starting to, like, really build their story online? What are some things that they commonly run into and that you know we need to work through? So this really becomes part of your business brand?

Jenny
I think. So. There’s there’s two parts to what I think a lot of folks struggle with, Um, Number one is I find that a lot of folks don’t actually see each individual piece as a part of the big picture. So one part that I find I do often is actually educating in that in the fact that no matter what, if we’re going to take whether it’s brand photos, whether it’s a video, everything should really work towards that bigger vision. And a lot of people forget about the bigger vision. And so I think that’s one part and then the other part, I think ties right into that is where they put all of the weight of their whole story of their whole messaging into one video or into one photo.

Jenny
And the second part is really that people put all of their weight into the one video or the one photo, like their entire story is dependent on getting this one video that they share on it, right? Or taking this one set of photos that have to fully encompass what their story is. And I think having that kind of pressure on any one piece of content is way too much. So I think removing that pressure and understanding that everything is like a part of that bigger picture. And then also at the same time, some people are really scared to show their face and get comfortable. And when it comes to sharing, and that’s another another part because people have their stories and it’s easier to share it when you’re in one on one intimate connections and intimate conversations. And then when it comes to a conversation with the Internet, it is hard for some people, and it is kind of intimidating. So that would be the other part of just letting go of that fear and understanding that if there is a reason that you need to be sharing this and it’s gonna it’s gonna work to empower people, then how are you gonna do it? How you gonna feel good about yourself as you’re doing it?

LauraAura
I think you had a really big one on the head with people are afraid to put their face out there, and that’s such a common fear because they’re like, What if I look conceded? What if people think that I’m better than everybody else, like it’s too much of me or, you know, even just the fear of like you’re usually behind the scenes and now all of a sudden you’re in front. So how do you how do you help people overcome that initial like, I don’t I don’t want to be out there. That’s not for me.

Jenny
Uh, as much as I wish that I had all the power in me, a recommend people started getting real comfortable, like it was really, really hard for me to do it myself and I really started about three years ago, and I don’t know if you know, Shameless, Maya Washington.

LauraAura
I do not.

Jenny
So her YouTube handle was Shameless Maya and her story is really that she was I will for a year. What if I put myself out there and it’s completely and utterly shameless in the work that I do and the things that I’m doing? What would that look like? And so I was super inspired by her and her story. And so in 2017 I was like, well, this is gonna be my year of shameless. I’m going to share every frickin thing that I’m doing, and I don’t care like I’m throwing that. It’s It’s not a humble brag. It’s a frickin brag. This is like I’m gonna tell you where I am. I’m gonna share a photo of me. I’m gonna tell you where I’m going. I’m going to share the work that I’m doing for one year and there really is, like, no result to come out of it, then. Okay, maybe it doesn’t work. Um, but I did that for a year, and that was the start of what has been some of the most incredible three years of my life.

Jenny
But that like it. But it took like, the 1st 6 months. I was like, What am I doing? Like, people are saying to get another photo of my face like, are they not gonna get tired of my face? It’s that self talk is really, real. And I see it so often when I take photos of people like I see their reaction to their own face. And when I see their reaction to their own face of that uncomfort that they’re, you know, taking photos of themselves, and they just kind of want the whole thing to be done and over with. I know in that moment there’s actually nothing I can do to change that and that’s work that they have to do on their self.

LauraAura
Uh, that’s that’s amazing power on you. Like that’s that’s huge like that literally gives me chills because you recognize that because, you know, from a natural like human state, that natural thing to do is, like, help fix it. But, you know, knowing that that’s not yours to fix is amazing. I’m gonna applaud you on that.

Jenny
Yeah. I mean, I would probably say here were very sad person if I just know that there’s so many amazing human beings I work with, and I love the photographs or the concept that a shoot for them and their some type of what I’m working with some people and you can you can see that they have it in them where they’re afraid, or they maybe they feel away about their body, or maybe like their bodies have changed. Or maybe they are just uncomfortable in front of the camera and that takes work to fix, and that takes self work like there there, you could go and see different coaches to help you with that. You can work on it yourself, but it still takes putting in the effort to find the way to work on it, right?

LauraAura
Absolutely. It’s it’s all in the mindset and you know, it’s it’s accepting you for who you are and what you look like in this moment. If we’re always waiting until we lose the 10 pounds or waiting until I get the haircut or waiting until this or waiting until that, like you’re gonna literally. Like, when is when is it good enough? Like you are you right now, today, in the form that you’re in and that is enough.

Jenny
100%. I mean, do you know how many photos exist of Oprah? Like at the beginning of the end, in the middle of, like, all of her yo, yo diets. At every step of the way, she’s like, I’m still Oprah, I’m still doing it.

LauraAura
I’m still Oprah!

Jenny
Who cares if I’m on another diet or not? Or is this one didn’t work? I’m still I’m still here. So hello.

LauraAura
Yeah. Can you imagine if she pulled back and was like, Oh, actually, I’m in, like, you know, I’m in the down swing of this diet so when I’m good, I’ll be back.

Jenny
Yeah, it it wouldn’t ring, so I mean, she’s Oprah, but she’s a whole different world,

LauraAura
Okay, But, you know, that’s that’s the result of self work and confidence, right? Like she only became Oprah because she believed that she was Oprah.

Jenny
Exactly. Exactly. So that that’s where God, I hope of the people who are getting ready to share their stories. I really, really hope that, um when you do do it like you are putting yourself in vulnerable positions, you are opening yourself up and your story up to the world. And I hope that you’ve done the work to prepare yourself for that. I mean, one of my friends Kat Gaskin.

LauraAura
Yes!

Jenny
I know that we both know in love. Yes. Um, she’s the founder of The Content Planner under for anyone listening who doesn’t know her. But, um, Kat Gaskin said to me once like “The moment you put something online are out there, you also give people ownership over that part of your story” in a way. So I also hold that very close to me. And if I if I choose to share parts of me or my story or recommend to other people that I work with to highlight parts of their story, how can we give other people ownership of that in a way that’s positive and helpful and beautiful instead of it being heavy and a lot and like for you not to be ready for it.

LauraAura
It’s great advice. I always find it fascinating, like the the essential like brand ambassadors that you end up creating that are like your cheerleaders. Like any time you’re posting something, they’re like they’re showing up. And they’re like Hell Yes! And people become hungry for for who you are and what you do because you invoke something within them. And that’s that’s the power of storytelling, right? Like it’s insanity.

Jenny
100% you get. Like, if you could do that, you’re doing it right if you are able to make people excited. And like make people excited about sharing your story to other people when you’re not in the room, then you’re definitely doing it.

LauraAura
I love it. I have chills head to toe. So as we’re rounding out here. I think one of the other beneficial things and I’m gonna brag on you for a hot second is really building the content to help you with the storytelling process and content is words, yes, but content is also photos and video and like, documenting things. So I had the amazing pleasure of working with Jenny when I was in Palm Springs. Um, with kat Gaskin and The Content Planner. And this is such a fun story, like anytime I hear Lizzo now I think of you, Jenny and I did. She took my photos. So she did a mini photo shoot with each one of the participants that signed up to do that. And basically, it’s like a collection of brand shot photos for you that you can sprinkle throughout your feed or your your newsletter in your website. And it’s just amazing. And we were, what would you say 50 feet away from Leonardo DiCaprio’s house?

Jenny
Really, like literally down the street.

LauraAura
Literally down the street. He wasn’t home. I went to see. Not there. But I can remember you being like, No, there’s more. There’s more in there. We need to pull that out. What’s what’s one of your favorite songs right now? And I was like, um Lizzo, Good as hell? So you guys blared it and like some of the coolest photos came from that experience. You know, when you just really step into your light and just be who you are unapologetically. Like, the stuff that comes out of that is incredible.

Jenny
Yeah, and that’s that’s genuinely that’s massive like I mean, I hope I only hope that every other photographer or content creator for other people seizes. But there is something so apparent to me, at least when someone is in there light and there in their power and their energy and they show up with that. You see that in a photo, you can feel that through a screen. So, like when were blaring good as hell and you are strutting down the street in like a beautiful yellow dress with palm trees everywhere. You feel like this insane amount of good energy that would be different if I was just like, Okay, can you just walk down the street and look at the camera towards me? It’s a very it’s two very different minds

LauraAura
Oh, completely different. And those photos, like if you guys are following me @thatlauraaura on Instagram like you’ll see any of them, any of the pictures with the palm trees and where I’m looking just like I’m feeling like a 1,000,000 bucks, That’s Jenny she you able to pull that out in me?

Jenny
Um, but yeah, I think when it comes to creating photos and like actually creating that content to share the story, one thing I really recommend with people that I work with is to genuinely first before it’s going to the images. Think about the story that they’re telling. So I mean, whether it’s through words, whether it’s through the overall theme that they’re trying to pull out, what is the mood? What is the feeling and what is the story? Because once you understand that it’s really easy to find the images that work for that to create images of one for you, whereas sometimes you might have a really nice photo of you with a laptop working in like I know some people some of my friends have, like, 20 photos of themselves with laptop working, and it’s like well, firstly, how much is this gonna build towards the biggest story at hand? And two, it is their intention behind it, because without the intention behind it, then it becomes hard to build on that story. Versus if you actually did it, the flipside it becomes easier because then you know what your intentions are. So then you can say Okay, you know, I want to talk about stepping into your power. Here’s what that image looks like. I want to talk about, um, you know, the people in the community that I represent and that’s what this image looks like. I want to talk about the day’s works hard, and that’s what this image looks and feels like. So that really helps actually driving, figuring out your content to match the story that you’re telling.

LauraAura
Amazing, such great advice. Well, I would love to keep talking, but I have to ask you one of my favorite questions. And that is what does gutsy mean to you?


WHAT DOES GUTSY MEAN TO YOU?

Jenny
Gutsy, gutsy means doing all the things and just not feeling afraid, cause it feels good, right? In that little part, can you write underneath your belly? That the part We’re like, who? This could be really bad, but I’m gonna do it because it feels great!

Jenny
You do like a high risk high reward that that’s what gutsy feels like.

LauraAura
It does. I often feel like, and I even just said this today in my office. I’m like I kind of feel like I want to vomit, but also, like, maybe I want to do a heel click and scream out loud like, Yeah, that’s that’s it!

Jenny
That’s it right there! Like the I want to vomit but if I vomit is only going to be like whipped cream and rainbows If you If you feel that feeling and you want to vomit and everything else feels bad, I would not consider that gutsy. I would consider that probably a bad decision.

LauraAura
Yes. Amen. Sister. Nail on the head.

Jenny
Yeah, if you feel after what you know, like oh, OK, think that’s what gutsy means to me. It’s I’ve read a lot of gutsy decisions in the last few years. Um, I’ve almost died way too many times. And so that was just like Okay. Like what? What else can I can I do that feels good and it’s gonna drive things forward. And maybe, just maybe, I won’t die.

CONNECT WITH JENNY

Instagram: @justaskjenny

Website: jennyjay.net

 

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