Jena Rodriquez, Author of Stand Up, Stand Out: Secrets to Discovering a Brand That Shines

LegacyONE Authors recently met with brand strategist and author Jena Rodriquez. We talked about her newest book Stand Up, Stand Out: Secrets to Discovering a Brand that Shines, her purpose behind writing it and the challenges she overcame in the process.

Karen Lynn Maher (KLM): Welcome, Jena, and thank you for being with us today.

Jena Rodriquez (JR): It’s always a pleasure to hang out with my Karen-friend.

KLM: Absolutely – and I’m thrilled to offer my community the chance to get to know you. First off, Jena, tell us a little about your book – and what was the purpose for writing it?

JR: Originally the idea behind writing Stand Up, Stand Out: Secrets to Discovering a Brand that Shines was that it would be a tool; an extension of my concepts. Because it is partially a workbook and supports my conversation around brand and the difference between brand and branding. And it helps people who are developing a brand and business to build a foundation which is strong, stable and sustainable. That’s why I wrote the book – so people could start that process on their own and have a resource to start building that foundation.

KLM: Great! It’s a beautiful book and chock full of great information for people who want to do just that; to spend some time thinking about their professional brand. It also goes into personal branding as well because as you’ve taught me, there’s really not a difference. Because we are who we are and you encourage them to be conveying that at all times.

JR: Yeah, you’re right-on. My definition of brand is it’s who we are, it’s what we stand for, it’s our point-of-view and perceived value and that expression we want to have in the world. Business, I believe starts with that leadership, starts with that vision. And so if you can get in touch with what your brand truly is, personal and company, then you’ve got such a powerful foundation on which to build.

KLM: Great. So, if you think about what it took to write your book and become an author, what was your greatest challenge and how did you overcome it?

JR: Fear of not believing I could write a book. For that matter, it felt unattainable, out of reach. But I think in some ways I created it in my life nearly twenty years ago when I said, “okay, one day I’ll write a book.” There was always that inclination to do so. I was a writer back then. I wrote poems, I wrote short stories. I was a creative writer and I enjoyed it. But I never accumulated anything or put it into form.

And, so, fast forward to being an entrepreneur. I saw what power and credibility writing a book built for others. And I thought, okay, this would be a good reason to do it. But I was still scared and afraid. The process was unknown. The fear was lack of knowing what was possible and how to break it down and just get it done. You know, and just get over myself, really. That was the hardest part. I was just in my way about it.

Initially I felt as though I had to put all of me into one book. I had to overcome that obstacle and really let go of it because the perfectionist in me and the “I gotta do this right, I gotta figure it out” – all those things were in my way. I’ve learned that you don’t have to only write one.

KLM: So what did you do? I get that you were your biggest obstacle with the fear and perfectionism. But how did you overcome it?

JR: I put myself on a deadline. I had an upcoming speaking engagement and it was only a month and a half later. And I thought, “How in the heck am I going to get this sucker done in that short amount of time?” The magic of me is if you give me a deadline and I have to just hurry it up and figure it out, then I don’t sit on the fence too long.

I had to pull this trick out of my tool belt because I knew that’s how I operated. And you really did help me get out of the over-analyzing of the process and simplify it – if I could just get started and create an outline! Right?

KLM: Right. You had support, you had some guidance, some instruction. You had pressure and a deadline. And you were well aware of what was in your way so that it wasn’t driving you underneath everything.

JR: Absolutely.

KLM: The awareness of what those obstacles were was pretty powerful.

JR: One hundred percent. I feel that most things can be overcome if we really look at it and realize it’s not necessary. We don’t have to live in the same story. We don’t have to do it the same way. And we can get support and have a structure and create a plan – and just go after it. I think a lot of us walk around assuming it can’t be done or we don’t have time.

We find all these reasons that are really probably not the truth to sabotage our efforts. But I was definitely willing to look it straight in the face and go NO, I just have perfection paralysis going on. And, I took responsibility for where I was about it and then was able to break that down and get the support and structure that I needed.

KLM: What do you think is your greatest learning was throughout the process of becoming an author?

JR: I can do this – I can accomplish it – I can finish it. It’s not as complicated as I was making it out to be. AND… I do have something to say! We all have a point-of-view. And when we’re willing to put it out there, put it out on the line, share it from a place of service and be open to making a difference to that one person that needs to read it – then that’s good enough. And this was a big lesson for me.

KLM: Yeah. Good is good enough. It doesn’t have to be everything all at once. So, Jena, tell us how writing and publishing a book has benefitted your business and your professional presence in the world.

JR: It’s been a really great way to build credibility – even my family was, like wow, you’re an author! It’s an accomplishment that has the power to be a silent salesman for you. You can put it on a table and it says something about you. It creates a perception. And people can read it and think, “this person has something to say.” It was very helpful when I started speaking. I was able to have that book in the back of the room to support what I was speaking about as well as my expertise and credibility.

KLM: Yes. Can you quantify, Jena, how your business changed when you started speaking and using your book as a tool – did you get more business?

JR: Speaking and being an author definitely helped grow my business. It put me out there. I had to show up and be vulnerable. It impacted the way I played bigger. My business grew 50 percent in 2013. I generated over $800,000 dollars. And that really is a testament to the authorship.

I said yes to willingness to be the expert and share my message. And it’s powerful to be willing to play just a little bit bigger than everybody else. But the truth is, all of us can do it. It’s not just saved for the few. It’s just your willingness to “get your brave on” and say yes to it. And, if people need the structure and a plan, Karen, you’re a great source, let me tell you!

KLM: Awesome! And thank you.

JR: You’re welcome. It really has impacted my confidence, Truly – just the accomplishment and to be proud of myself that I did it. To own that has definitely shifted the needle in my business.

KLM: What tips would you share about promoting yourself as author as well as promoting the book?

JR: Don’t be shy about it. Put it in your speaking and on your website. Be proud of it and really spread that word that you are an author. I just started speaking it and owning it – and that’s definitely one of the biggest tips I can give – don’t keep it a secret!

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