I had the pleasure of talking to Jacqueline Basulto, the Founder and CEO of SeedX Inc. (https://seedx.us), a digital growth agency in Los Angeles and New York City. Jacqueline is a graduate of Columbia University who did a short stint at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, CA where she worked with small businesses on their online presence. There, she saw the overwhelming need for a reliable and talented provider to help businesses grow online. Jacqueline left Google and started SeedX Inc., which now works with fortune 500 companies, technology startups, and organizations across the United States. In less than three years being in business and as a female second-generation Hispanic entrepreneur under 30 years old, Jacqueline (along with her awesome team) has made companies millions of dollars and hit the million dollar revenue mark herself.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How did you get to be where you are right now?
Growing up as the daughter of immigrants from Cuba and Puerto Rico, Jacqueline was raised with the importance of hard work and striving to access as much opportunity as possible instilled in her. She was always a creative kid who loved making things – business ideas, music, art, and more- and reading. Throughout high school and college, Jacqueline was a straight A student who took interest in opera, mathematics, economics and political science, and foreign language. While she is grateful for her upbringing, Jacqueline recants the pressures of growing up as a star student and creative kid. As the first person in her family to graduate from college, Jacqueline put an incredible amount of pressure on herself throughout her schooling years. She suffered from panic attacks and depression beginning at age 13 when she was diagnosed with a stomach ulcer from stress build up. Into high school and college, her mental struggles got much worse before they were any better. During her final year of college at Columbia, Jacqueline experienced a horrifying episode of major depression, during which she attempted suicide. While this was the hardest time of her life, Jacqueline says it was also the best. She realized that in order to work through her depression and be happy, she’d have to forge her own path. In this recovery and self-exploration, Jacqueline built up the courage to pursue a creative and difficult life of entrepreneurship. Being herself turned out to be the best cure for her depression.
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? How did this quality help you overcome obstacles on the path of becoming an influential and inspiring leader?
Jacqueline is naturally introverted – for this reason, some of the biggest obstacles and growth she has seen while in business has been learning how to speak up for herself, defend her point of view, and work confidently with clients. For two years, Jacqueline was the sole point of contact for sales at SeedX. Being on the phone every day for hours educating and selling their services to people from different backgrounds, with diverse personalities and needs, helped her overcome any fear she had of speaking out. Now, while she still loves her alone time, talking to anyone at all feels easy.
What does it mean to be mentally-strong in the hyper-competitive world of running a business or an organization?
Being mentally strong while running a business means being able to calmly (for the most part) handle anything that is thrown your way. At any given moment, entrepreneurs may be hit with a lawsuit, cash flow problems, competitors doing crazy things to you, an angry client, a mountain of unforeseen work — the possibilities for what can go wrong are endless. You need to train your mind to handle the constant ups and downs — losing money and gaining money, great projects and projects gone wrong — with a level-head, professionalism, and class. It’s not only for your well-being but for the well-being of your employees, your clients, and all of their families.
A lot of people in the business world feel as if talking about mental health makes them appear weak. How do you feel about showing mental strength and setting an example of what it takes to have strong mental stamina to succeed?
Everyone in business experiences mental health challenges — it’s the nature of difficult work! Jacqueline feels it’s her duty to speak about her mental health challenges to demonstrate to her employees and other business leaders that they are not alone in what they are experiencing. To Jacqueline, it’s a sign of strength to be open about your shortcomings and share what tools work with you with other people.
Is there a particular person, a book, or place of wisdom that has inspired you to become a successful and mentally-strong leader?
Jacqueline has ready many books about entrepreneurship, but the book Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, the creator of Nike, always stays with her. When Knight started Nike, there was no internet and the globalization of business wasn’t in full force yet, so he literally flew to Japan and stalked down shoe manufacturers to help him with no funding and very poor Japanese. He would wait for months and months for shoe deliveries to arrive (if ever) and had constant issues with capital. It took decades for Nike to grow out of the back of Phil Knight’s car trunk into flagship stores. Every time Jacqueline is stressed or feels like she isn’t growing fast enough, she remembers how much patience Phil Knight had to fulfill his destiny of creating the largest sporting wear brand in the world.
Can you give us 5 tips on maintaining strong mental health stamina to succeed in the modern business world? Tell us a little about why each point matters.
Building the strong leadership position requires intense interaction with other people. These professional interactions can be both positive and negative, depending on the kinds of people we interact with to achieve our goals. What is the better choice to make to achieve greatness: learn to interact with toxic acquaintances to ‘get to the top,’ or choose to be a loner and do all the grunt work individually without dealing with the toxicity of others?
Interacting with toxic people is a guarantee if you’re growing a successful business — you cannot grow a business or yourself if you’re hiding from people and their problems. However, you shouldn’t put up with them to get to the top faster either. Whenever I come across toxic people, I don’t work with them. It’s not worth any amount of money in the world to work with someone who makes your day more difficult. Not only does it affect leaders, but it lowers the morale of your employees who have to deal with them and puts a huge strain on your growth. If you take on toxic partners or clients, they will constantly look for attention, delay their projects, and make it so that the mental trouble and financial cost of working with them makes no sense. In short, pass on toxic people’s offers and work with good people! Even if you lose money in the short term, you’ll have much more time and mental energy to spend finding better opportunities in the long run.
If the readers of this interview series would like to read more about you, how they can reach out?
LinkedIn : Jacqueline Basulto, SeedX Facebook, SeedX Website, SeedX Pinterest, SeedX Instagram, Twitter: Jacqueline Basulto, Email: [email protected]