Name: Jacques Bastien
Profession: I’m an entrepreneur, designer, writer, and college professor. I’m the CEO/founder of boogie (multicultural marketing agency) and Breadcrumbs (SaaS for building small business websites).
One Word That Describes You: Hustlepreneur
What does being one of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction mean to you?
Ah man! Being one of BEMM 100 Men of Distinction is such a great honor. I live to motivate and inspire young entrepreneurial men, especially men of color, to follow their dreams and turn their passions into careers. Being one of BEMM 100 Men of Distinction doesn’t only help my message reach new audiences but it also shows others that anything is possible through hard work and hustle.
What are some examples of how you turned struggle into success?
Well, I don’t know if I’d use the word struggle. I’m not sure I’ve ever actually struggled. Yeah, people struggle with exams, relationships, etc., but struggle sounds like something that should be reserved for people who are battling illnesses, homelessness, etc.
I don’t know if struggle is the right word for me. Don’t get me wrong, I came to the U.S. from Haiti in 2000 and was bullied for about three years, I lost my mother and best friend (same person) in 2004, I was picked on in junior high school for wearing the same shoes every single day, I was robbed at gunpoint by a kid who was at least five years younger than me in 2007, and over the last eight years I’ve started (and failed) more companies than I care to admit. Still, I don’t know if I’d use the word struggle. It’s life. It’s experiences. Things happen, you learn from them, you become a better person. These experiences are why I am the person that I am today.
Instead, I’ll use the word risk. What are some examples of risks that turned into success, you ask?
In 2012, I graduated from college and immediately started looking for office space. I found a 800-square-foot space in a basement and spent all of my life’s savings on the security deposit and first month’s rent. Yes, that was all my life’s savings. After I signed my three-year lease, I had about $200 left in my bank account. No loans, no credit cards, no monthly clients, and absolutely no idea what I was doing. My girlfriend, now my wife, my best friend and I spent the next five months renovating the office. We built and painted walls, put down carpet, ran electrical wiring, and anything else we could learn from YouTube.
Today, just a little over three-and-a half years later, we’ve moved to a 2,000-square-foot office, opened two more satellite offices, grew our team to 10 people, have worked with some amazing clients, and have NEVER been late on a rent payment.
It wasn’t easy but there’s nothing you can’t achieve through hard work, hustle, and having faith—and this is one of the many risks I’ve taken that have taken me to the place I am today.
What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?
I only associate myself with good people. I’m sure this sounds cliché but I’m talking about people who are naturally wired to be ‘good.’ They’re selfless, they’re caring, they’re empathetic, and most importantly, they don’t take themselves too seriously. This is what I look for in friends and this is what my companies look for in employees.
What are some immediate projects you are working on?
I’m currently writing a book called Fake It Make It. It’s an self-help piece about how to make it in business, in life, and in relationships.
Last year, boogie launched a subsidiary, Breadcrumbs, to build beautiful websites for small businesses for one low monthly price. Now, we’re in the process of launching another subsidiary.
One of the services that we help our clients with is sourcing social influencers to partner with their brand. Through that process, we realized that a lot of the influencers we engage with weren’t really sure what they were doing. They’re not sure what to charge, they don’t understand contracts, nor do they fully understand how to grow and leverage their social following. We also realized that brands are willing to invest in lesser known influencers (under 100k followers) but they’re not entirely sure where to find them, especially those that will help them reach multicultural audiences. That’s why we decided to launch SHADE, an influencer management agency connecting brands with multicultural influencers, bloggers, and creators while also helping influencers, bloggers, and creators make a living from their audience and content.
SHADE will be launching during summer 2016.
What is the best advice you ever received?
I’ve received a lot of great advice that I live by today: everything happens for a reason, never take yourself too serious, and my favorite advice that my mom gave me, “if anyone ever picks on you, no matter who it is, defend yourself—unless, they’re Asian, then don’t. They probably know karate.”
What is some advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?
Fellas, if you’re out there looking to make a difference, it’s really important that you know who you are and why you’re here.
Also remember that there are 24 hours in a day. Use them wisely. There’s nothing wrong with working a little harder now to build the life that you want later.
How do you prep for an important business meeting and/or event?
I wake up between 5 A.M. and 5:30 A.M. most mornings and start my day with a 10-15 min meditation and prayer session. Then I jog (or exercise) for 30 minutes and then check some e-mails. That’s how I prep for most days. When it comes to events, I spend a lot of time thinking about my outfit. A few weeks ago I attended the #BE Entrepreneurs Summit and I wore a pink blazer. This way, it’s easy for people to remember me when I follow up with them.
As a busy Modern Man, how do you unwind on vacation? Share a story about your best vacation.
Speaking of vacations, when I proposed to my wife in February 2014, we had no idea our proposal video was going to go viral and ultimately lead to our wedding being paid for. We got married in May 2014, and it was one of the best moments in my life. Unfortunately, when we got married, we were so busy working to grow the company that we didn’t have time to go to our honeymoon, nor could we even afford it.
We told ourselves that starting on our one-year anniversary, we’d start going to honeymoons once a month. Since May 2015, we’ve visited many places nationally and internationally. Including Montreal, Los Angeles, Miami, Washington D.C., Costa Rica, and many more. Out of all of the trips, my favorite was our first one together. We went to Florida and had the time of our lives.
If you could travel and stay anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I have yet to visit any of the countries in Africa and that’s something I look forward to doing. There is so much history and culture in Africa that I’m excited to learn and experience. Besides Africa, it would probably be Paris. Parce que je veux tester mon français (Because I want to brush up on my French).
Anything else you’d like to say?
I’m just really thankful for this opportunity and I hope that sharing my story inspires and motivates some of the men out there to work to become their best selves.
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