“The Most Important Thing To Do Is To Leave Your Comfort Zone” With Emil Jimenez, of Passion Communications

“Complacency is the killer of progress. This means you must constantly improve yourself, try new things, make mistakes, but above all else…

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“Complacency is the killer of progress. This means you must constantly improve yourself, try new things, make mistakes, but above all else have the persistence and hope that things will always turn out ok in the end. We need to always put our life in perspective. What we do is not life or death. People do not suffer or die because our campaign failed. When we succeed everything is great, money comes in and people are happy. When we fail, it’s just a temporary setback.”

I had the pleasure of interviewing Emil Jimenez, Emil is the founder of Passion Communications, a full service creative agency based in Prague that not only creates compelling marketing campaign throughout Europe but also serves as an incubator for brands that they develop. Born and raised in NYC, Emil emigrated to Prague shortly after finishing his Master’s degree, worked as an international art director managing brands across the CEE and in 2009 opened his own agency. Since then the agency has grown to become a leader in the market and most recently started to endeavour in producing their own brand of products like PASSION1 and Emil hold a B.A. in Psychology, a Masters in Communications and Art direction, and in 2020 will graduate with an MBA degree.

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

I was born and raised in the NYC neighborhood of Washington Heights and Inwood. The youngest of three sons and the only one born on american soil I learned at a very young age to have discipline in the face of provocation, roll up your sleeves, get to work and don’t be bothered by people trying to distract or get in your way. My mother was a teacher and later in her career a guidance counselor who showed us that education is something that you do for life. She has 4 masters degrees, a Phd and has written 2 books with a 3rd on its way. My father is a retired Coronel who had to flee his home country in the 60s due to political reasons and for this reason my family emigrated to the United States. I have to admit that both of my older brothers paved the way for me and set the family bar extremely high. They both got skipped a few grades, graduated with honors, worked on wall street, and opened their own businesses. The day I told one of my brothers that I’m leaving my job and opening my company his response was, “you finally grew some balls.” That’s the kind of home I was raised in. A lot of love, great example of overcoming obstacles, and a motto of persistence.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you in the course of your career? 

Early in my career I was shooting my first major commercial and during the shoot we needed a few extras to stand in the background. My partner and I volunteered and ever since then I’ve been somewhere in the background of all the ads I have ever done. As a huge fan of comic books growing up it is my personal Stan Lee tribute. If you don’t know, Stan Lee is the creator of Marvel comics and he is in all the Marvel movies in some form or another.

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

 Unfortunately not to the extent that I would liked but I’ve made a concerted effort to improve on this. I’ve always waited for the moment when “I’ve really made it” but that moment might never come and there are still many things I can do. Some of the things that I am currently doing to bring goodness is that I try to expose students to the industry by offering them an internship with Passion Communications and working closely with my team on real client work. I myself started as an intern and that experience was extremely valuable. Secondly, I’ve recently begun to work with a local orphanage by taking some of the kids to businesses and demystifying the workplace and showing them that any job is possible. For example, a couple of times we have shot commercials and I brought a few of them to our shoot. One of the smaller kids took a real interest in directing and I’m trying to keep him in the loop as much as possible. He’s has a bad leg because his mother threw him under the metro when he was about 4 so you can see that he can’t walk very well. I want to show him that this job is completely within his reach and that his leg won’t affect his ability to direct. I’d like to take this concept and make it bigger with due time. Our next visit will be to McDonalds so that some of the older kids can actually find employment and make this a great first step in their career.

If someone would want to emulate your career, what would you suggest are the most important things to do?

It is very hard to emulate someone’s career because the circumstances of each person are so different. That being said, the most important thing to do is to leave your comfort zone. Complacency is the killer of progress. This means you must constantly improve yourself, try new things, make mistakes, but above all else have the persistence and hope that things will always turn out ok in the end. We need to always put our life in perspective. What we do is not life or death. People do not suffer or die because our campaign failed. When we succeed everything is great, money comes in and people are happy. When we fail, it’s just a temporary setback.

Is there a particular person that made a profound difference in your life to whom you are grateful?

There are so many people who have had a profound impact on my life both personally and professionally. Yet, by far, the person that has impacted my life the most is my mother. She has been a constant pillar of guidance, support, love, discipline, and an example for everyone who has come into contact with her.

Can you share a story?

There are so many but I’ll begin with the most recent. Last year I seperated from my wife and since then my life has been extremely difficult to say the least. These things are never easy but when a small child is involved they get even more complicated. I will not get into more details about the situation but I will say that a mother’s love is infinitely stronger than we imagine. Thanks in part to her, the situation with my ex is much better than it was a year ago and I’m eternally grateful for her support.

So what are the most exciting projects you are working on now?

Currently we are working on developing our internal brands and as well as a campaign which aims to raise the awareness that 90% of the plastics in our ocean are caused by 10 rivers. 8 of them are in Asia with the Yangtze being the biggest culprit and responsible for 70% of the damage. This is an initiative being spearheaded by one of our clients and they have asked us to participate in making the creative communication for the cause.

What are your “Top Five Ideas About How Influencers Can Monetize Their Brand” . (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. Size Matters

When influencers are attempting to monetize their brand, it’s important that they build a large following The more followers your brand has, the more your brand will be worth to external companies looking for a sponsor. For example, Kim Kardashian has nearly 115 million followers on instagram, and has been paid up to half a million dollars for a post promoting a product. You don’t have to be as famous as Kim to successfully monetize your brand though. Companies like Hello Fresh, a meal kit delivery service, more frequently seek out smaller influencers. It’s common to see their service sponsored on growing podcasts, YouTube channels, etc. They even have a partnership program dedicated to forming these sponsorship relationships, which is transparent about the price they are willing to pay you for promoting them.

2. Encourage Engagement

Hand-in-hand with the importance of size comes the importance of high engagement. A popular way influencers monetize their brand is by making deals with external companies that involve a payment per action plan. These work by paying influencers an agreed upon amount of money every time one of their follower click a link, subscribe to an email list, purchase a product, etc. In these situations, it is important to have followers that actively engage with and respond to your calls to action. A way to increase this kind of engagement is by offering a unique discount. For example, makeup guru Jaclyn Hill offers discounts on products in the comments section of her YouTube channel whenever she is debuting products.

3. Join an Influencer Agency

Much like successful models and musicians have agents, influencers can do. A con associated with picking up an agent is that you will have to pay a percentage of your earning to them. However, this is often time worth it for the expertise and coverage you will receive in return. One example of an influencer agency is Paris based Influens, who brings like-minded influencers and brands together. As an influencer, this website also provides you with tools to gather your performance data and make decisions about how to enhance your personal brand, and increase your influential power.

4. Let Your True Colors Show

In order to evoke passion from your followers, you must express passion yourself. Part of the reason influencers are able to monetize their brands is because they are generally very authentic and transparent. They accumulate massive followings by allowing their big personalities to shine through in their content. They also do not hold back when expressing their opinions. In fact, an influencers’ opinion on a product is the whole reason they are able to monetize their brand. If a product or service earns the stamp of approval from an influencer, only then will a member of their audience consider purchasing it. For example, BluMaan is a Youtube influencer known for producing videos on hair product reviews. His followers trust his recommendations for hair products because he is honest about which products he does (and doesn’t) like. An an influencer, it’s important to remain authentic to ensure that your relationship with your followers stays symbiotic.

5. Create Original Content

A common problem influencers come across when attempting to monetize their brand is differentiating themselves from their competitors. Aside from their personalities and aesthetics, influencers often times do not offer unique value to their audience. By producing original content, influencers have a leverage point for negotiating with outside brands. It allows influencers to say, “I offer this unique product or service that nobody else in my market does. Because of this, my audience is a target market you will not be able to access through any other influencer, and you need me.” It makes them worth more, and less disposable. A great example of an original influencer is the YouTube channel “Crushit,” which posts videos various objects being smashed by their “big hydraulic press,” as they refer to it. They monetized their brand by getting companies to pay them to smash their products for entertainment. In this video, Baird & Co pays them to smash a $40,000 solid gold block they provided. How’s that for an interesting business plan?

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