Community//

“Do it.” With Tyler Gallagher & Jess DelVirginia

Do it. Don’t feel discouraged because you are young, or because your idea may not be 100% developed yet. There are always going to be people who are significantly more qualified than you and less qualified than you. They’re all doing what they want to do. What’s to stop you from following what you’re passionate […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

Do it. Don’t feel discouraged because you are young, or because your idea may not be 100% developed yet. There are always going to be people who are significantly more qualified than you and less qualified than you. They’re all doing what they want to do. What’s to stop you from following what you’re passionate about? If it doesn’t work out, you can always go back to working a regular 9–5, but I have a feeling you won’t want to.


As a part of our series called “My Life as a TwentySomething Founder”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jess DelVirginia.

Jess DelVirginia is the founder of Insite Strategy, a strategic communications firm, based in NYC/Jersey City. Insite Strategy provides consulting services in public relations, crisis and issues management, entertainment management, social media, public affairs, and event planning. Jess holds a Bachelor’s Degree from New York University in Media, Culture, and Communication, with a double minor in Psychology and Business of Entertainment, Media and Technology, and is currently a Global MBA candidate at IE Business School in Madrid.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

I had been working and interning in boutique PR firms in the NYC area for about five years when I started Insite Strategy. When I knew I wanted to leave my last firm, I picked up a couple of freelance clients, figuring they would be my side hustle when I found my next job. When it came time for them to pay me, I decided to set up an LLC to make tax time easier. From there, things began to snowball, and soon enough, I was able to sustain myself and stop interviewing for corporate jobs that I wasn’t really interested in.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company

It’s less of a story and more of a corroboration of the old adage: “It’s all about who you know.” I didn’t think I knew enough people to keep my business alive. My first two clients came from pre-existing friendships unrelated to business, and those connections grew into other connections, and now I’m at a point where a good deal of my existing partnerships are word of mouth connections. It’s a reminder of how small of a world it is when you’re working in industries that tend to overlap, as well as a reminder of how important it is to network and ask people about their lives — you never know where you can help someone out.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I’ve been very lucky to have some great mentors throughout my career so far. In PR, anyone can pitch 100 reporters and hope that something sticks. I’ve learned my strategic approach from some of the best strategic communicators out there, and now always think three steps ahead when doing my work. It sets my company apart because it costs clients less because we waste less time, but there’s also a higher ROI with the results they get.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I began my MBA program at IE Business School in October 2018. I went to Madrid for the orientation, excited to be exposed to different sides of business that I might find interest in, because in all honesty, the communications world had lost some of its luster for me. When I got there, and we were working on different group projects, my classmates would defer to me on the positioning, branding, and messaging because they viewed me as an expert in my field. This was about a month before I picked up my first freelance client. This time in Spain helped me realize that people valued my opinion, and trusted me to do my job. It absolutely helped give me the confidence to move forward in my business when the time came.

Are you working on any exciting projects now?

I’m really excited about some of the new projects and products coming from a few of my clients in the next couple of months! I also love the beginning phases with new clients, because it’s rife with interesting information and perspectives that I enjoy taking in. I feel lucky to work with brands and individuals that are determined to help make different life experiences better for others than what they have dealt with in the past.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I tend to take on clients who have a goal of wanting to make a positive impact in the world: from eliminating back pain through active sitting, to improving gut health in the population, to helping individuals navigate the divorce process, and ensuring artists are getting paid fairly for their work, I’m really proud to work with my clients who have great missions. In 2020, I want to find a mission for Insite Strategy to champion on its own.

Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?

I know it’s a book that most people had to read because it was in their school curriculum, but one of my favorite books to this dayis To Kill a Mockingbird. I loved reading as a kid, and once I flew through all the Goosebumps books and murder mysteries that were semi-age appropriate, my dad suggested I read the Harper Lee classic. He told me to check with my 3rd grade teacher at the time to be sure it was at the right level for me. She told me that it might be a “little advanced” in terms of content, and suggested I wait a couple of years. She couldn’t have said anything that would make me want to read it more.

I learned many lessons from this book — the most important being to put myself in the other person’s shoes to see their perspective, and the other being to not judge without the full story (probably why I enjoy crisis management). Beyond the book’s lessons though, looking back, I find this incredibly minor act of rebellion to be foreshadowing. I knew that I would always want to start my own company, but always figured I would do it in my early thirties because I didn’t think it was possible to start so young. Just like reading that book, when starting Insite Strategy, there were some things that I had to learn and ask questions about along the way. In hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t wait to read the book, and I’m glad I didn’t wait to start my company.

Can you share 5 of the most difficult and most rewarding parts of being a “TwentySomething founder”. Please share an example or story for each

  • Rewarding: Seeing your hard work pay off. If you’re in a traditional business setting, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. Here, you own the process and the results. Seeing the results you get a client is really something special, and the best encouragement to keep going, even when it gets tough.
  • Rewarding: Flexibility — As long as I have wifi or my hotspot, I can work. It’s a newfound freedom that not enough people get to experience. I can take a 3pm Pilates class and in turn, work early mornings or later into the evening. I’ve run my business from cafes in Istanbul and poolside in Miami. Not being tied to a desk and having clients across the country has its perks.
  • Difficult: Flexibility — Time. Management. Is. Crucial. Just because you do have freedom doesn’t mean you can blow off responsibility. You are never really off the clock. I work on weekends, I work late at night, and I have to be available during regular business hours across time zones as well.
  • Difficult: Imposter syndrome — it’s hard to overcome it, and you run the risk of undervaluing yourself because you feel like you are too young/too inexperienced to be where you are. Know your value.
  • Difficult: Saying “yes” too often. I’ve definitely fallen into the trap of saying yes to every project because I was worried that there wasn’t going to be another opportunity. I’ve now taken to looking at it from a place of abundance, rather than scarcity. Say yes to what you’re passionate about. Don’t compromise your beliefs, and better fitting opportunities will come to you. This isn’t to say to turn down opportunities that will help you grow and push you, but don’t be afraid to step back and evaluate if something is the right fit for you.

What are the main takeaways that you would advise a twenty year old who is looking to found a business?

Do it. Don’t feel discouraged because you are young, or because your idea may not be 100% developed yet. There are always going to be people who are significantly more qualified than you and less qualified than you. They’re all doing what they want to do. What’s to stop you from following what you’re passionate about? If it doesn’t work out, you can always go back to working a regular 9–5, but I have a feeling you won’t want to.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂

I heard Sallie Krawcheck of Ellevest speak about financial literacy about six months ago, and her approach was unique in that she made becoming well-versed in finances seem interesting and exciting. She is also really funny and warm. I would love to sit down with her and see what else I could learn, especially now that I am in charge of my own financial future, rather than just opting into an employer-provided retirement plan.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

Follow @InsiteStrategy on Instagram and LinkedIn!

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Thank you!

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Community//

“Take care of your people.” With Jess Ekstrom

by Ben Ari
Community//

Innovative Wood Worker, Jess Crow shares actionable advice on beating stress, Overcoming setbacks, and dominating your field.

by Chukwuma Agugbue
Community//

Female Disruptors: Jess Ekstrom is giving children hope.

by Erika Couto
We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.