Jessica Malnik on remote work, presenting and starting your own business

Episode 127:
Jessica Malnik on remote work, presenting and starting your own business


This is an episode for: founders, writers, content marketers and anyone wanting to or working remotely.

Molly Geoghegan, Narrative Strategist

Molly Geoghegan

Jul 04, 2024

Jessica Malnik is a marketer on-the-go.

With a background in journalism, Jessica harnessed her writing skills to start her own business copywriting and has established herself as a thought leader in the marketing and content strategy space—all while working remotely. 

Jessica also produces her own podcast about leading a team remotely, is a regular on the conference circuit and is starting to speak on panels!  

Jessica and Molly met at a conference in Austin but she already knew Mikey from a LinkedIn group which just goes to show how involved in her communities she is. If you’re in need of some fresh content strategy or inspiration to start your own business, tune in ASAP.

What's in the Spice Cabinet??

Where to find more Jessica?

Jessica’s favorite speakers, presenters & TED Talks: 

Preferred pods & media resources:

What’s her walkout song? 


Click here to see the podcast transcript

pt127 Jessica Malnik - release v01

Mikey: [00:00:00] Welcome back to Presentation Thinking, aka the Storyteller's Study Club. I'm your co host, Mikey Meduski, founder CEO of Ghost Ranch Communications, a presentation design agency. And I'm joined by my co host, your favorite, Molly Gagan, straight out of Denver, Colorado. Molly, what's up?

Molly: Hello! Hello, everyone, Presentation Nation.

Today is a very special day because oftentimes, Mikey, when we meet people to have on the podcast, it's like an online connection or like a fandom, you know, we kind of fangirl over someone and we meet them. But today I met someone in The Flash, in real life, [00:01:00] at a really cool conference that I've talked about on the podcast, uh, Spring by Winter, Peplaha of, uh, Winter, really cool, like, B2B, PMM focus, and, um, just a really chill time in Austin, Texas, I met this fab our fabulous guest, Jessica Malenik, founder of her own content group, Producer from podcast.

She's here. She's sitting here now. Hello,

Jessica: Jessica. Welcome Thanks so much for having me and it was so great to connect with you And austin a couple months ago molly

Molly: it was I know and we made and we you know It's like when the when the trip makes it out of the group chat We're like we gotta have you on the podcast.

I was serious. I'm like dming you on linkedin I'm, like I i'm actually serious. Do you want to come on? So thank you for making it happen.

Mikey: Jessica. I got I got molly's take on it. What did you think of? Winter with a Y's, spring with a Y event in Austin.

Jessica: I think the vibe, I, and first of all, I love conferences like that, that are smaller, that have a vibe of just being like.

In the wing, it's people actually talking about real stuff, and it's [00:02:00] not just sitting in a conference or a boring stuffy conference room listening to big name speakers at Fortune 500 companies just talking in a room about, like, basically What I'd almost call like shameless case studies.

Molly: Yeah.

Jessica: Literally like, you know, it was a really good mix of like hat spraying.

It was a really good mix at first. It was like, oh, it's at a brewery. What I think is actually kind of genius. I

Music: liked it.

Jessica: You're not in that boring stuff. And it's a really big mix of just being able to have meet with people like Molly and everyone else. And just really get out. Well, like the ins and outs and the nuances of what's actually happening in B2B marketing right now instead of just listening to back to back talk.

Molly: Their focus was like, they really practiced what they preached in that, well, first of all, it was in Austin, Texas, which you are, you're an Austin native, right? Or you lived there for a long time?

Jessica: Native, but I lived in Austin for a very long time.

Molly: Yeah, for a while. So you, you knew, but it fit the vibe of just like, but yeah, like, as you said, it was at a brewery, it was very casual, and they encourage people not to pitch to each other, but simply to me.

So I think. I think we [00:03:00] really, you know, hopefully we're products of that and, um, proof that it worked, you know, so it was really fun.

Mikey: Quick bragging right, I actually met Jessica before you did at another conference, like a long ass time ago. Cause I started listening to the Tropical MBA podcast, it's like, When I first heard discovered podcasts over a decade ago, I think Jessica, you were somehow involved in, in the tropical NBA, right?

Jessica: Yeah. I think that was literally when I was still working for that and not even running my business yet.

Mikey: Yeah. That's awesome. And, and today now, so for anyone who doesn't know the people behind that podcast were early on the whole, like taking the Tim Ferriss four hour work week thing, running with it all about digital nomadism, starting internet companies, living anywhere.

And Jessica, since then, you've. You actually have a, another website called remoteworktribe. com as well. So I'm sure we'll want to get into that, but maybe give our listener a background of like who you are and how you got to where you're at today.

Jessica: Yeah, absolutely. So a little bit more about my background.

I always like to say, I feel like most marketers have kind of a [00:04:00] squiggly background. I actually kind of got my start squiggly. I love that journalism in college. And then actually my first job out of college was actually working as a And associate producer, so that's assignment editor for a newsroom.

They were quickly realized that like, well, I love journalism. I don't love some of the nuances of the, where it's like, you know, the crazy work hours admittedly very well pay for a very, very long time until you hit it big. Meanwhile, when I was in college, I had taken a couple of like psychology classes and a lot of online media classes, which was kind of how, and then I discovered this little thing at the time called Twitter, I figured out and kind of got into marketing and became a self taught marketer.

That way I kind of learned my background as a social media. Manager from there turned in, and that's how I got into copywriting. And I've been doing copywriting ever since initially as an employee and now as my own business. For the last five years.

Molly: So cool. You, you have that boxed up really well. You've said that spiel once or twice.

What is your, what was your kind of like moment? I mean, yeah, of course the journalism grind was [00:05:00] like crazy hours and you know, not a lot of pay, but what was your first kind of like trip into the marketing world?

Jessica: Yeah, my first trip was literally when I had my first job, my straight up first job out of college.

I was working in a newsroom and I was basically nicknamed the Twitter trainer. This was right about when Twitter was starting to pop off and like no one in the newsroom had any idea how to use it for like breaking news, let alone how to use it as like a personal brand and marketing. So my first foray into it was literally building websites and helping a bunch of reporters at that news station.

Develop their own personal brand and market themselves, both within the company, both within the newsroom and also when they were at other jobs. So like my first thing was literally freelancing and helping journalists build out websites.

Molly: So you like started doing that even when you were at another company, basically.


Jessica: have an organic website.

Molly: Yeah.

Jessica: People realize that I knew how to like build websites and all of these reporters were just like, that company would be like, Hey, I will pay you. And I think I like. Looking back at it, I think I charged like 200

Molly: for

Jessica: [00:06:00] me, so I'm just like, I was just building out all these websites for all these reporters.

Molly: That's an awesome story. I definitely relate from my non profit experience being the person that's like, Oh, Molly, will you like upload this to, you know, Facebook and make something of this? And it's like a 18 page Word doc or something. You're like, wait, what? And so you're kind of this like go to person that's like becoming like a bit of a, trying to do like the media savvy stuff and like, Onboarding other people on the team to be like, you could do this too, but like, this is the type of content it can take or not, you know, it's a very interesting role to be put in.

So, as Mikey said though, you've been kind of within this remote work area for a very long time and you've founded your own company, Jessica Malnik Content Group, and what was your first, like, yeah, stumbling into that when, with the moment you were like, okay, I'm done, like, having the people just ask me at the office, like, I'm going to create my own group.

Yeah. When did you have that aha moment?

Jessica: Yeah, I've kind of always known in the back of my head where I'm like, at some point I wanted to like run my own business. I've kind of been surrounded by a lot of like entrepreneurs and small business owners. [00:07:00] Um, and I was kind of new, I was kind of chasing, and probably Mikey can relate to this as well, the freedom of like being able to chase different passions, um, and be able to set my own schedule and that sort of thing.

Um, I'd wanted, wanted that for a long time. And even when I was working in house full time as an employee, I always had sidekicks. Um, usually it was literally just freelance writing. It was kind of on the side. And eventually I got to the point where I had several months where I'm like, we're making 75 percent of my full time salary.

And I'm like, okay, maybe this is the right time to like take a jumping off point.

Mikey: I think it's hard for people like us, like in marketing, kind of good at writing. We're probably kind of good at design, a lot of different things. And, and we're like, What exactly am I, you know, and when we're marketers, we wear all the hats.

When you went off on your own, did you try to tell people what your niche was, or did you kind of follow the trend to say like, people keep sending me this type of work, I'm going to kind of ride that wave for a while.

Jessica: I think it was definitely, I can definitely relate to both of it. I think it was definitely more of the latter, just because when I, [00:08:00] and this actually had created some issues that I actually had to like reposition my business from further down the line, but hey, it got me started.

Most are like, I want to say about. 80 percent of my, like, freelancing side hustle work when I was still an employee was basically as a freelance writer, whether it was freelance copywriting or freelance content writing. So that's kind of how, when it made sense at the time, I'm like, I'm just going to jump off and have that be the core offering.

And yes, I'm going to do strategy as well. And I was constrained between strategy and writing. And that's how it kind of jumped off. And I basically kind of wet rain with that for the first year to two years of my business. Um, until I got a little more specific about, I just basically in the first year, I'm just like, I'm going to take on pretty much anything within these niches.

And within the verticals that I really specialize in, which is kind of professional service firms and B2B SaaS, like I'm just going to take everything I can possibly get a hit my hand on. And then at about year two, I started to niche down a little bit more and got rid of things. I got one point in time, I was doing some paid ads, but very quickly realized I can do that.

I'm pretty good at it, [00:09:00] but I don't really want to be doing this all the time, nor do I want to build a full business as an ad person, so that's kind of the first thing that I phased out.

Molly: Yep. Right. And you had said, um, before we started recording that you're still building, like, your company's story, so what would you say is, like, yeah, like, the core tenets of, like, yeah, Jessica Melnick, people come to you for content, like, What types of clients do you get?

Like, what does that contribute to? Like, what's the core story and services you're providing?

Jessica: Yeah, absolutely. Like kind of our core offerings right now. And as again, it's like, I have to say, I'm like either a micro agency or solopreneur with a small team and the sense where I'm like, I'm very much committed to, I had some experience working in house at an agency in the past, and one of the things that I was frustrated about agencies, some of the agencies, it was like having your, a lot of like the biggest companies.

And like, I'd worked for a really, really big creative agency in New York And one of the things that Preston made about how New York City agencies work was oftentimes you would get the senior A listers would be all on the pitch. And then when you go in to actually do the work, [00:10:00] you're getting a bunch of 22 to 24 year olds.

Great experience for me at the time when I was 23 working in that environment. But I always kind of wanted to be like, I don't want to have this. I want to work directly with clients. So kind of our story is really about the fact that like, I am the only strategist, I am the only account manager. And just wanting to work really closely of like early stage startups really are ethos.

Molly: That was going to be my next question because I remember talking to you at the conference about startups and their stories. And like how exciting but also frustrating that space can be. Can you tell us a little bit about that? And we don't have to like, call anyone out of course, but like what's that typical kind of arc look like for you in helping someone develop their story with like within copy and narrative and that kind of thing?

Jessica: I don't feel like I have this figured out at all yet.

Molly: Okay.

Jessica: But all I can say is like, I know that I'm unique in the sense that like, I do my best work working with really small marketing teams and helping them like, you know, they already have like a little bit of a foundation and I like kind of helping them go from They've done the hard work of going from zero [00:11:00] to one.

I'm really good at going from one to 10 and it's like, okay, okay. You have this angling thing. It's starting to work, but they have no clue how to scale it or what to do next. And I love keying in and working with like, usually like sometimes it's just the founder, oftentimes it's the founder and like one in house person, maybe a couple of freelancers and helping them just kind of mesh it all together and like really get something off the ground and like at velocity.

Molly: Yeah. And do you, do you find there's like a typical. Type of, of client coming to you with that, like there, is it like, what are the consistent needs that people have when those, those scaling things, like the tactical needs and next steps that they would give them?

Jessica: I would say one of the things that often times it's frustrating because they don't actually often times know this, but, and I don't even know this as well until we're further into it, but often times one of the biggest.

And I think one of the biggest pain points I see some of my client, some people fall into is it feels like they're throwing spaghetti at a wall and like they're doing all these tactics, but they don't really have an underlying strategy and they're creating really inconsistent results and they're getting frustrated by that.

[00:12:00] So me kind of coming in there and just kind of being like, okay, what's working, what isn't working, let's put a strategy behind this. And become a little bit more focused and a little bit more consistent, because that's really what great marketing is. It's just being really, really consistent.

Molly: Yeah, I saw you put a great LinkedIn post about that.

You're very active on LinkedIn, which I find super helpful and inspiring. Uh, Mikey and I are always trying to be a little more consistent with that type of posting. But it was something to the effect of, yeah, like, marketing without strategy is truly just kind of like, we're just throwing shit around, you know, to a certain extent.

And, uh, and while sometimes something sticks, that's great, but it also can be like a huge waste of resources and energy. So I appreciate hearing that, like, your thing is like, let's get to the actual strategy and make a choice behind each, you know, there's a choice behind each creative or a reason behind each creative choice and so on.

Jessica: Yeah, absolutely. And even just for that, even to throw even further on that tangent, it's, it's, it's Like you can go too far into strategy. And like, oftentimes if you get like a CMO brought into an early stage company, they might go way too high [00:13:00] level and be like, okay, too much strategy, too much planning, and then it takes six months to launch anything not good for an early stage company or even a mid stage company.

But on the opposite side, you don't want to have like a bunch of junior people have like one or two junior people throwing a whole bunch of spaghetti at the wall, and then you have no consistency because you're just chasing shiny objects.

Mikey: Uh huh. Not really like measuring it to see which one they should keep, uh, pouring into.

So you've been working remotely for almost a decade now, maybe, you know, tuned into that whole movement for longer. Can you tell us about your remote work tribe podcast?

Jessica: Yeah, absolutely. So that podcast, this podcast is called the remote work tribe. And I really heard the idea for kind of the site a long time ago when I be, when I was still working remotely as an employee and I, I would say the second time that I'd become a people manager is in a remote environment.

And I'm like, okay, like, why is there no, like, I feel like I was looking, I was kind of looking up to Buffer and Zapier and a couple, and like [00:14:00] GitHub who had been remote and has their DNA forever. But I'm like, why is there no like independent source with like crowdsourcing all of the companies that have gone remote?

And I'm like, this doesn't exist. And then like, I kind of was sitting on the idea for years. Um, and then finally made the decision to kind of go forward with that in December of 2019. So again,

Music: she's

Jessica: got very, very lucky with timing,

Music: a

Jessica: pandemic happened three months later.

Mikey: Did you see a big bump in traffic from,

Jessica: I feel like I kind of wasted some of the initial pandemic energy.

Cause I originally thought I'm just going to have this be like a blog slash affiliate site. Um, and the podcast actually didn't launch until 2021,

Mikey: but

Jessica: I still kind of saw some of the, I saw an abstraction from it to be like, okay, I'm sitting at something that feels like a really good idea. Let me run with this.

Molly: Have you made like what, what kinds of connections have you made via that project? Because that's kind of just, as you said, you've always been doing some side hustle stuff, but has that helped feed into like your day to day work as well? Um, or is it just kind of like fun [00:15:00] hobby either way? It's great.

Jessica: I mean, I think it's a mix of both.

Like, I feel like I walk away from all the interviews that I do sometimes learning more than my guest.

Molly: That's just like

Jessica: a really cool way to kind of get the nuances of really understanding. Okay. I mean, we're doing like some of like the best in class readers that I think of who are running remote teams or managing a remote team.

And I'm like, okay, I want to understand how they think, you know, what are they doing? And I feel like, you know, there's so much value in it.

Molly: Yeah. It's like that, I guess, Mikey, that's kind of how we feel about presentation thinking like this is our. It's a bit of a passion project and, uh, Oh yeah. Certainly a, um, means to an end to meet people and learn things, of course, but it's really, I mean, I think it's just proof in the pudding that, like, you should pursue your passion.

That's what I'm trying to say. I'm curious, Jessica, have you ever considered just, like, with so much remote experience, have you considered, like, consulting with people to, like, work remote or help them kind of, like, transition to, like, a remote

Mikey: Change management kind of

Molly: stuff. Yeah, like, have you ever done that?

Jessica: That's an interesting question. I really haven't thought of doing that. Like, I kind of started as [00:16:00] a simply a passion project and to scratch my own itch. How do I get better as a leader? Cause that's at the time when I launched it, it was like the first time where like, you know, I'm in business now. I now have a couple of freelancers who I basically treat as team members at that time.

And I'm like, how do I make sure that I am leading effectively and waiting effectively in a way that makes sense for my own personality and also in a more async fashion.

Molly: I could see that for you. I could see that for you. Which, speaking of, I know you have said you've been invited to several panels and this is Presentation Thinkings.

We're always curious. What kind of like presentations have you had to give or especially either coming from your content group or just like out of, yeah, passion projects for yourself, but I know you said you wanted to present and be on panels more. Talk to us a bit more about that.

Jessica: Great question. So like for myself, whenever I speak at anything and I'm always, you know, super honored any time I get the chance to be able to speak.

I was going to approach it more from a practitioner standpoint, probably going back to what I kind of said it with about spring and one of the things I liked about spring and [00:17:00] other events that I've been to, um, that are kind of smaller is it's very much focused on like practitioners who are still doing the work.

And whenever I speak, I try to be like, okay, what are the things that like I've been actively doing in my own business and, or actively working on with clients and figuring out ways to kind of tell their, so now those stories and like the lessons work.

Molly: Yeah. I've seen a couple of photos of you like on your site and otherwise on social media.

What's, what's like some of the fun, what are some of the panels you've been on?

Jessica: Yeah. So some of the talks I've given, I've given a couple of talks about kind of my framework called the content framework, and it's kind of the underlying philosophy of pretty much how I approach content strategy for any client I work with.

I've done a couple of talks on copywriting and various nuances of that. And I've done some talks around. I hate the word personal branding, but like, let's just say social media. How do I approach social media as a business owner and how to build a founder brand.

Molly: I've

Jessica: done that for myself. And I've also done that with a couple of clients.

Molly: Yeah.

Mikey: Cool. Jessica curious, like what is it that draws you to [00:18:00] speaking and wanting to do more? I certainly know why I think, you know, like I want to do more of it for my, to grow my business, but yeah, I think we probably share. Probably similar, you know, strategy behind that.

Jessica: Yeah. Same. I feel like for myself and I almost hesitate to give this away, but like as someone who's very much an introvert and I can play an extrovert when I have to, I feel like speaking at events is like the ultimate networking cheat code.

So I'm like, I have to approach as many people, they approach me and I can start like a really cool conversations that way. And like. Meet a lot of people. And then of course, obviously there's best to send back some of that as well.

Molly: Yeah. Mikey and I read this book called the referable speaker. The author's names are escaping me now.

I'll leak in the spice cabinet later. Michael

Mikey: Port, Andrew Davis.

Molly: Mikey. And that's all about essentially that it was like speaking, even if you like, if you're scared of it, whatever, but if you like, if you're trying to meet people and get yourself out there, like, that's the best way to do it because you just get, you just get thrown into the circuit.

And especially as your talk gets better and better, you'll be, Meeting more [00:19:00] and more people and you aren't, I mean, like talk to us. You've been to how many conferences? Cause I know you've like, when I talked to you at winter, you were like, I've got two more this month and a couple more things. And I know you use them as sometimes like excuses to travel, which I think is awesome, but yeah, what's, what's your strategy and like just throwing yourself out there in the, those in person environments being a completely remote worker.

Jessica: Yeah, I feel like I find like some people, like everyone has their own balance. So I'm like, I'd rather kind of like back to my conferences. That I go to and kind of do all that every once, instead of like having to do a bunch of local things and like go to the chamber of commerce and stuff like, so I'm just like, if I'm going to go to this, I'm going to go do that.

Unfortunately, it also means that pretty much every event that I want to go to typically falls in either the spring or the fall. So, like, I'll have you touches of time where I won't go to any events and then to that experience. I'm like, okay, I have three in a very short window and I like. A four week time period, and then like nothing until the fall.

Music: Yeah.

Jessica: Maybe more of just, you know, conference [00:20:00] organizers. Hey, maybe spread out your conferences a little bit more. So they're not all in April, May, September and October.

Mikey: I have like, I can't find an open two days in a row in September, October where I'm not like, I'm like trying, I'm almost double booked on conferences.

And there's more that I want to go to, to your point. It's like so many good ones. It's, I don't want to turn a few of these down, but. I was the same way. Growing the business, like, growing my brain, and just, for me it was, the networking is, is great, but as an introvert, as well, I'm like, I'm not gonna go like, make it rain, I'm, hopefully I meet a cool person or two, you know, and, and have, have some good chats, but.

A lot of times too, it's like, uh, the discovery of seeing these people on a stage that I would have never otherwise heard about, and then you see who they follow, or who they reference, or what books that they recommend, and for me it was like that expansion of the things that I didn't know that I needed to know, and, and that was so early in my career too, I, I volunteered at conferences, I would, and the [00:21:00] beauty too, once you became a freelancer, it's all a write off, so it's like, boom, I, I remember the very first one I went to, As a business owner was in Hawaii.

I was like Honolulu the, it was like the web, the CSS devcon. Hell yeah. Sign me up. It was the best. I learned so much and it was like tax deductible. It was awesome.

Molly: And you got to serve Fry Mikey, of course. And drink

Mikey: great coffee. Yeah,

Molly: yeah, exactly. Yeah,

Jessica: totally. I've done the same, I've done the exact same thing.

I started mine as well where it was like volunteering at a couple of events. That's a, here's a cheat code for someone maybe listening to this who's younger and like early on in their career. Go volunteer at conferences if you want to meet people in an industry and go work the registration desk. The registration desk was like my cheat code where I'm like, introvert, but I'm going to shake hands with every single person as they sign in.

Mikey: Yeah, and the speakers too.

Jessica: Or work the speaker green room. Yeah,

Molly: ooh, smart.

Mikey: That's

Molly: big. That was

Jessica: probably the coolest experience ever. Like I get to be inside of this group and all of the speakers.

Molly: I love that. Yeah, totally. And you get to [00:22:00] see the like the list of companies where people are from so you can kind of zero in and be like, Oh, I know, I know I want to talk to this person later.

Yeah. I love that. I was just going to ask because because you've been to so many conferences, what do you, you've seen a bunch of keynotes, right? So what do you think like separates like good presenters from like truly memorable, great keynoters? You know, you've seen, you've seen probably some good, bad and ugly.

Jessica: Yeah, I'm not gonna like call out anyone for bad or ugly. No, no. I will even just name names of some of who I think are the best speakers and the people who like someday if I can be like percent, I'm like, that would be like, that'd be

Molly: great.

Jessica: So like, I feel like the best speakers are the ones who are just amazing storytellers.

They know how to infuse humor as well. Like, you know, being funny in ways that like a truth or talk without being like controversial or spicy or like awkward about

Music: it.

Jessica: And they're just really, really strong storytellers. Like you can just tell there's a clear arc. In their story, but I'd actually be curious to hear both of your takes as well, given on the presentation side.

Molly: Yeah, this is what it's [00:23:00] this is the name of our game. You know, we're trying to figure this out constantly.

Mikey: Oh, yeah, like just generally speaking And jessica I say this because you were you and I have both been to some tropical nba dynamite circle Microconferences, I think they're in the like anywhere from like 100 to 300 I've never been to their big bangkok event, but the uh, like the mexico version let's say You I think, I know they really, they don't want to bring people in something you said, like at the top of the hour is like, they don't want to bring in these big, flashy, like successful people who are only going to speak to like how great they are, how many Lambo's they have, like how flawless their career has been.

They prefer to put people in the spotlight who are going to genuinely share all of these stumbles they've made. They'll, they'll show their books, they'll tell this like really authentic story about like. Yo, we effed up and and here's what I learned from it and here's where we're at now And so i've i've become because they really push that transparency at these conferences.

I feel like i'm more drawn to those [00:24:00] What would otherwise be more like a breakout? Then a key, then a general session, big, you know, inspirational keynote. Leanna Patch was another one who was like hilarious. I don't know if you saw her, Jess, but you know, a punchline copy, super funny. I'm a sucker for a good gif at the right moment, you know, or like a meme or something or some pop culture injection.

Yeah. That kind of stuff, just to keep it a little like unexpected. I think anyone who, who can do something that you haven't heard a billion times is, is kind of endearing to me.

Molly: Yeah, I was gonna say like someone that's telling a story that feels like, that's able to tell their story without feeling like super canned and make it feel like human, very relatable.

And Mikey, to your point, I think sometimes, of course, a smaller room helps with that, like, just more of a breakout room session. But I've definitely seen keynoters where you get this feeling where you kind of think they're kind of thinking off the cuff, even if they have some visuals supporting them. We always kind of examine when we're, we have like a series on the cast called Ted Talkin where Mikey and I, like, dissect a Ted Talk that we really like, and we go through the visual, the [00:25:00] delivery, and the storytelling, those three aspects of how people.

Kind of contribute to their presentation and those three aspects really add up for sure. Yeah.

Jessica: Yeah, absolutely. And now I'm curious, who are your

Molly: favorite all time speakers? I know, now we're just into it. Yeah, okay. This is a little spice cabinet question for, for you I wanted to hear. I mean, we always call her Saint Nancy Duarte.

We love Nancy Duarte on the cast. She's one of the presentation design like greats for sure. And then let's see, I have more recently, Mikey. I love

Mikey: Dr. Carmen Simon. She's a neuroscientist. She wrote. A book called Impossible to Ignore has a new one out. Honestly, the just showing up early in, I, I think this was at like the future of web apps conference or something.

Uh, Gary Vaynerchuk, Gary V, like, you know, maybe, this was maybe 10 or 12 years ago. He just admitted that he walked off the plane, doesn't have anything prepared, which is usually, you don't want to hear that, right? And had no slides, nothing, he just kind of walked around. Delivered greatness like so I think there are those [00:26:00] few people who don't have to rehearse nothing that dude It's just he's gifted with the gift of speaking and gab and working a room and he was hilarious like energizing It was awesome.

I don't know if you all have seen him live and like he's a pretty polarizing dude, but He gets me, man. He makes me laugh. I've seen the clips. I've seen the clips. I've seen

Jessica: him live once.

Molly: Like, about ten years ago. Yeah. Guy Kawasaki, I love. And, um, and then a smaller, not, I mean, he's, he's getting, he's growing, for sure.

But Rain Bennett, friend of the cast. We met him on TikTok. And he has a book called Six Second Stories. Really focused, he's like media and video background is his, is his bread and butter. But all talking about how to, like, present as, as, not, not necessarily as fast as possible, but just, like, with short form content, just how to tell your story succinctly in a really compelling way.

And, um, I think he's a great presenter as well. I've loved, uh, listening to him on podcasts and watching some of his presentations.

Jessica: So I mean, similar to what Mikey said as well, I really enjoy like people who are just willing [00:27:00] to be like, throw it all out there because I feel like there's so much power and like hearing their stories and their relatability, especially if they're a great storyteller.

But when it comes to some of like the bigger name, professional speakers, two people that instantly come to mind to me that I'm always like, how can I just like, Learn from them and like, take some of those tactics. Um, one is Jesse Cole from, he's basically the owner of Savannah Bananas.

Music: Oh yeah. Okay.

Jessica: Oh, I want to go at some point.

We love the Savannah Bananas at the ranch. Their TikToks are amazing. Yes. Yes. And like his entire story about like how he built out that team. It's like, he's just an incredible storyteller.

Mikey: Did you see him speak live or is this like, just like, where'd you see him?

Jessica: In Cleveland at the CEX conference in 2023.

So last year,

Mikey: that's awesome. All right. He's one of the

Jessica: best speakers I've ever seen.

Mikey: And the other

Jessica: one who I've seen happen to see twice now as a keynote is Ann Handley.

Mikey: Okay. And she's brilliant. She's so funny.

Jessica: Yeah. And to [00:28:00] like, is like the ultimate like marketer. And the ultimate copywriter. So I'm like, okay, everybody

Molly: writes,

Jessica: he's freaking amazing.

Like, yeah.

Molly: Okay. Awesome. We're linking immediately. Do they, does, do either of them have a Ted talk? I feel like in sure. And, uh, yeah, I'm sure. I'm yeah. I'll link, I'll link that. Yeah. Do you, are you the type of, do you listen to any podcasts or TED Talks like for fun on, you know, content, presenting, any storytelling, anything like that, Jessica, or do you totally check out and listen to something totally different?

Jessica: Um, I still definitely listen to some, I used to, I listen to a lot more TED Talks, um, a few years ago, and I still listen to several, and I definitely listen to some as I see those. And then also I just like listen to a lot of podcasts as well. So like also listening to like interview style podcast and I feel like between TED Talks.

And then we podcast, so you got to really understand more. And I feel like one of the things I love about both of those mediums is like, the more you listen, it almost has like, you almost can like, so if you ever do meet [00:29:00] those people, like, it feels like, you know, them, even the, which can be trippy, but also it's like, I've been listening to you, your podcast for years.

And like. I hear your voice.

Molly: Or like, or like, you might know a fact about them that you would only know from the podcast or something and you're like, Oh, hello.

Mikey: I love that.

Molly: Um, what are, yeah, give us some You could get really creepy with it, which I would not recommend. What are some of your faves? Any recommendations, um, that you want to share with listeners?

Uh, in terms of TED Talks? TED Talks, podcasts,

Jessica: all the media. Yeah, so for TED Talks, I feel like the one that is, like, the one that kind of was the most fundamental to me, and this is one that I listened to 10 years ago, and still listen to to this day, is obviously the famous one from Brene Brown about vulnerability.

Molly: We've done a TED Talk. Yeah. The vulnerability. She's got a couple and they're all, they all like weave in this, like, even a bigger story, I think, in a, in a way. And, um, yeah, she's just a beautiful presenter. Absolutely.

Mikey: What do you think is what comes first, chicken or egg, the TED talk or the [00:30:00] book? Or does it, does it, does it not necessarily always fall one way or the other?

Jessica: That's a good question. I feel like I've seen it be like 50, 50, like, like 50 to 100 percent of the time it's like the essay or the book and the other times it is. The Ted Talk, then the book, the one that I feel like is the, on the opposite, the other side of that, that I really liked was the original Tim Urban one, from Wait But Why.

Mikey: Ooh. I haven't seen that one. Okay. Tim

Jessica: Irwin? Tim, uh, I think is West James Urban, but I could be wrong there. Urban, okay. Tim from Wait But, Wait But Why.

Music: Okay. Oh, yeah. And it'll be where we're talking

Jessica: about, like, how many moments you have in life. It's like a really profound deep talk.

Molly: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Great.

Thank you. We'll link both of those, Brené and Tim Urban. Yeah.

Jessica: Awesome. I feel like I never have enough time to listen to every podcast that I want to listen to because if I scroll up on PocketCast and or Spotify, which is where I listen to everything, um, there's way more than I [00:31:00] have time to listen to. Um, but like my, some of my favorites and my go tos for the longest time would be obviously one of the ones that Mikey and I've already mentioned, which is PMBA.

Epic podcast bootstrapped web from Jordan Gaul and Brian Castle is another really, really good podcast, especially like in the weeds of two founders, like actually talking about nuances and like just being really transparent about it for kind of like bigger name for some of the for some other podcasts that I really like.

Um, my first million has a pretty good one, um, acquired FM and then I also have newer ones that I'm listening to a lot more or ones that are new to me would be the exit whisper from Kerry Kirpin. They got acquired by Lexi Grant and then there's a quite a few more as well. But oftentimes listen to you, uh, the X and Y podcast.

Molly: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Exit five. Jessica, that's awesome. We're going to like, I'm going to get this list from you and then we could share Jessica's like playlist, honestly, on Spotify. [00:32:00] Are you a Spotify listener or?

Jessica: Uh, Spotify and Packet Cast.

Molly: Okay, perfect. We'll, we'll link those as like. Jessica's highlights.

Sometimes we'll get people that are like, I never listened to podcasts or people that listen to something completely different than what has to do with their day to day work, of course. But I love that you have so many resources. It's great. Also a good, I'm sure it's a good like exchange when you meet people to exchange like your podcast, you know?

Jessica: Yeah. I love listening to podcasts, particularly like of all different genres, kind of like, you know, To like one or two or three founders just kind of talking amongst each other versus others where it's like interview style. Yeah. Yeah. Then of course, I kind of mentioned before, I also have some like entertainment reality podcast.


Music: Yeah.

Molly: Totally. I know we're in the spice cabinet, but I want to ask one more like big picture storytelling question just because I keep thinking about it was we've been talking about like you create content for people and you have such a good presence on LinkedIn. And I'm curious, just your perspective, like big picture storytelling, how does content [00:33:00] contribute to.

Like the greater story of what like you do for your company and you know, where did like, how do you see the hierarchy of storytelling and where does content fit and fill those things as part of the strategy? Because I would argue that like you're a storyteller, you're a content marketer, but content marketers are storytellers in my opinion.

And what do you, what do you think about that?

Jessica: Yeah, I would agree with all of that. I feel like in terms of like, I'm not sure if there's necessarily a hierarchy, but the way I kind of think about it is like, well, first and foremost, what's your brand positioning? Yeah.

What's up below that is you have content, which is basically not just a department within marketing, but like you need content and all aspects of your marketing and actually as well as sales. So, like, the next piece of that, the 1 that we're down is what is your content positioning? And I feel like that is probably 1 of the most underrated.

Thanks. And especially when it comes to content marketing, it's like, why are you writing about this? What's the story you're telling? What do you want, like your [00:34:00] ICP or your audience to get from this? And kind of starting from there. And then everything else tends to fall into place.

Molly: I love that.

Mikey: I haven't heard like content position.

I've heard like content strategy, but certainly if you're saying the same crap as everyone else, you're not really positioned. Right. And so. Okay. That's brilliant. That's I love that term.

Jessica: I want to see that term. Uh, I call it copycat content, which is a massive problem with copycat content, especially when you come into SEO content.

And I can go on to a rant about that for a while. I won't about like why SEO content shouldn't be a thing. Like it's everything is content and SEO is a distribution channel. Yeah, that's another story, but a lot of the problems with copycat and that didn't happen because there is no content positioning or there's no clear reason why you're writing this.

Molly: Yeah, I'd love to, I can see that like mapped out on a whiteboard. I'd love to have that diagram how you, how you mapped it out there. Oh, thank you. I just wanted to kind of get that insight into your storytelling brain as well as like writer to writer. That's very cool. Yeah, it was still in the spice cabinet.

I am already gonna I know this already [00:35:00] Jessica Malnick is well worth a follow on LinkedIn. You can find her there anywhere else. You'd like people to link people to jessicamalnick. com Yeah. If you also want

Jessica: to check out the podcast, it's the remote work, the remote work, tribe. com, or just go to our newsletter, which is

Molly: newsletter.

Dot the remote work, tribe. com. Beautiful. You'll get more of these nuggets, these beautiful storytelling nuggets that she's dropping here.

Mikey: And let's say Jessica, you're. You're submitting, you're accepted to take the stage at South by Southwest or a TED Talk. You're walking down, they call you up. What's your walkout song?

Jessica: That is a good question. I feel like it always changes and that's not a great answer.

Mikey: We love it.

Molly: Depends on the audience.

Jessica: Depends on the ICP. It depends on the audience and it also depends on the talk that I'm giving.

Music: Yes.

Jessica: Say something about yourself. One I've definitely given once or twice is uh, Blinding Lights on the weekend.[00:36:00]

Molly: Okay, fun. Yeah. Let that play. Hot take, is it X or Twitter coming from a former journalist? Uh,

Jessica: I'm still gonna call it Twitter even though I know it's technically X.

Molly: Yeah, we had a whole episode on that. Who Brandy? To fiasco.

Jessica: Yeah, I mean, I'm still on there, still very active on there, but yeah, it definitely is a, uh, I won't get into it, but I'm like, it's definitely changed, and I don't think it's necessarily changed for the better.

Molly: Yeah. Yeah. Dang. Alright, blinding lights. I love it. Jessica, this has been so insightful and really awesome for anyone that's, you know, Uh, looking to start a company of their own, uh, works in content marketing, and, um, is potentially an aspiring presenter. I'm sure we're going to find another reason to have you on the podcast, but any parting words for Presentation Nation before we close out here?

No, thank you so much for having me. It was a great conversation.

Mikey: Awesome. Jessica, it was great to see you. Molly, until we meet again,

Jessica: yeah, keep on [00:37:00] pitching.

About The Author

Molly Geoghegan, Narrative Strategist

Molly Geoghegan is a writer, organizer, and film school dropout. She hikes frequently with her dog, Guinness, and signs up for too many email newsletters. Having lived in Chicago, Paris, Dublin and Galway, Molly has made her way back to the Rockies and calls Denver, CO home.

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