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Brianna Zajicek of The One Year Project started her career without a degree as a teen mom, and in a matter of months went from a server to a 6 figure earning corporate technology executive.
Within months of her corporate success, she started her own company which she exited a few months later. She then went on to build and sell tech companies, and become an 8 figure entrepreneur.
Later on, she became a Ph.D. researcher studying cognitive science and artificial intelligence, with the bulk of her research focused on building an algorithm to predict if an entrepreneur will or will not be successful.
Even though she seemingly had it all, she wasn’t happy. She didn’t feel successful and fulfilled, and woke up each day not wanting to work on that company she had worked so hard to build, and not wanting to go to class for the Ph.D. she worked so hard to get into.
So she set out on a mission to take everything she knew about achieving goals quickly and rapidly transforming her life, along with the science of success and happiness, to create The One Year Project.
It started out as a personal journey where she was the guinea pig of her own research. Over the course of the year, she realized there was so much power in taking the “science of success” and simplifying it into a system.
In this podcast episode, Brianna shares the story of her entrepreneurship journey. We also talk about the importance of in-person networking for your business.Entrepreneurship is the only thing that helps people who have other limitations. You don’t have to have the perfect background, you can just take control of your future. - Brianna Zajicek Click To Tweet
In This Episode of the Start Fierce Business Podcast:
- Brianna shares here inspiring entrepreneurship origin story.
- We discuss the challenges of going from a business to business model to a business to customer model.
- We discuss the importance of customer discovery for your business.
- We also talk about why you should start customer discovery in person as opposed to online.
Brianna’s Favorite Online App:
(Some of the links listed below are affiliate links, and I will receive compensation for you signing up for service using my links.)
Mentioned in this Episode:
- Zero to One by Peter Thiel
Reach Out to Brianna:
Note: Transcripts are created automatically and are not 100% accurate. However, they help our visitors find relevant content using our website’s search feature.
Welcome to the show. Brianna. Tell us about yourself outside of your business.
Sure. Well, first off, thank you so much for having me outside of my business, there’s, there’s a lot a lot of depth to me, I guess what, what, how I would explain it. But I would say, um, you know, just just like a lot of people, I wasn’t always, you know, an entrepreneur or born in business. And for me, it really always seemed like the only way to have complete freedom because I didn’t thrive under environments where there are a lot of rules and structure. And after helping to make other companies and another CEO successful, it just makes sense for me to start my own business. As far as more of a personal standpoint, I am mother, I have two children. And I also am a researcher. So a lot of the research that I do is on the science of success, and building artificial intelligence algorithms to predict if on numerous will be successful or not. Okay,
Tell us about your business and how that started.
So my business is the one year project. And it started a few years back after I had pretty much achieved a lot of different things I wanted my life. So I built and sold over, you know, several companies, a lot of them multiple seven figure companies and I had beautiful children and a great marriage and all the things I’ve ever really wanted. But I was waking up each day, I didn’t really want to run those companies, I didn’t want to go to the classes I had to go to go do the things I had to do every day. So for me, I you started my own one year project by really just take making a decision that I wanted to spend one year where instead of chasing the goals are the things I thought I wanted, I would use that year to actually just every single day say, okay, does this make me happy, does this make me happy, and use that as the guideline to redesign a new business that was actually in line more with what made me happy, and who I was, versus a lot of the things I’ve done in just make good money. And what’s been your greatest challenge as an entrepreneur. So far, my greatest challenge has been if I’m honest, moving from a like business that serves other businesses, because those are most of the businesses I’ve had before it’s been in the technology space, or, or some other space to where the my customers rather business, they’ve been beat up beat businesses. And so as I moved into this new business, to do something, I love the when your project really helps, you know, individual people. So I’m, I’m working with individual people. And that’s been a little bit of a learning curve and struggle for me, because when you work with other businesses, you just, it’s a little bit different, I would get meetings with fortune 500, and I walk in, I get a few million dollar check, and I’d walk out. And it was a lot easier to pitch them, because you already know they have the money, and you’re just pitching them a little bit of the features and, and why it’s going to solve that problem. But when you’re working with consumers, there’s a lot more that has to go into building the actual brand. And there’s a lot more that has to go into trust. And it’s not about the product as much as it is about them, trusting you. So that’s been something that I’ve had to, to make a shift and learn and grow.
Aside from not wanting to work for someone else. And aside from your family, what’s your why. So
My why probably comes from my childhood. Because I grew up very, very impoverished, we didn’t have running water, we power and I saw my parents struggle for years and years and years, and they didn’t have the opportunity to go out and go to college. This was it couldn’t have gotten scholarships, and they couldn’t afford the fees. And they didn’t have the ability to do a lot of different things because they had bad background checks, and all these sorts of things. And I thought, well, what entrepreneurship is the one thing and the only thing that helps people who have other limitations. So you don’t have to have the degree, you don’t have to have the perfect background, you don’t have to have the perfect credit score, you can literally just take control of your future. And I think that’s really what drives me is helping people who feel like they don’t have as many opportunities realize that entrepreneurship is so one way where they can actually take back some control in a lot of different ways. I love that what advice you have for someone that’s just getting started in business, one of the biggest things I preach is like being about what you’re about, and something I call audience intimacy. So a lot of people have an idea, and they’re so passionate about the idea, or the product, or the service or whatever they want to offer, they spend the initial six months, 12 months or whatever, just working on that product, that service that website that you know, sells process or whatever that looks like. And I think before you build anything, you solve any problem, you’re gonna struggle with selling it. And you’re going to struggle with solving the problem the right way, unless you have audience intimacy. So one of the things I always said just to people is, go hang out with the people you hope to serve, go work with them go learn their hopes, their dreams, their fears, their goals are, what other solutions they’ve already tried, as I work has, I’m not, you know, sometimes it’s called customer discovery. But if you don’t very, very intimately know the people you’ve helped to serve, then you’re not going to be able to serve them. Because you’re going to be dictating answers to them, versus building solutions with them. And when you build solutions with them, you can build things that actually work for the way they live, and you’re not gonna make as many mistakes, you’re gonna have more cells and everything just tend to work out a lot better that way. If you’re building this intimacy, let’s say if you’re on Twitter, and you want to network via Twitter, would you do it via personal profile or business? Or does it not matter? I don’t think it’s about the, the profile. And, and I think a lot of times, with this age of the digital error, we tend to go online to build all of our communities. But I think that there’s, there’s the level of intimacy that you have, when you’re sitting at a lunch or coffee or, or something with somebody that you don’t necessarily always get online, right? It’s not the same. So if there’s any way possible, I say, start locally, like you, who’s what you got. So if you hope to build, you know, camps for children, then go to every single organization in your city that is giving back to children and begin volunteering, begin meeting those leaders for lunch, begin seeing how they’re trying to solve the problem, what struggles and fears that they’ve had, and meet the children and see what they’re going through. And so I think that there, you know, there there’s, there’s something to doing things online, there’s also a different level of intimacy that you gather from getting to know people in person. So usually what I would tell people is start with where you’re at, and the people you have access to. And from there after you’ve kind of infiltrate your local local community somewhat then you can you know, from those people you know, okay, well, where do you hang out online? Are you more of an Instagram person are you more of a Twitter person and what other profiles so you follow and you’ll have a lot more intelligence to be able to go online and find the areas that your ideal customers clients and community hangs out online so that you’re interacting with the right people and the right messages and you know their hopes their dreams their fears and their goals and and that helps you to build a deeper level of intimacy and love it if you could have lunch with one business thought leader who would it be.
What’s interesting I have never been somebody who I once I don’t look up top there people but I’ve never really gotten into a space of of kind of looking up to celebrities or oh my god this one entrepreneur because at the end of the day we’re all human and I think that we all have an individual value to it it’s hard to say you know you mentioned Twitter earlier in that Bravo recent Twitter conversation I was a part of about Ilan musk and building the submarine to help the trapped kids McCabe and stuff. For some reason, he was top of mind to me, and maybe the reason for ism, because I, I think he’s the ultimate best entrepreneur out there. But it might be more so because he’s probably the person I’m least likely to be able to get access to be on my network, because there’s a lot of brilliant entrepreneurs, but I could probably wiggle my way into, but he might not be one of them. I’m also a huge fan of Peter Thiel. So those two are probably be some of my talk to people.
And what’s your favorite business book business book?
Well, I just said Peter Thiel. So you know, I can say zero to one has been amazing.
Yeah, we’ll stick with that for now. What’s your favorite internet resource or app that just makes your life easier? Hmm. I have to that I live and breathe off of and that is slack in trouble. So cello is where I can communicate my ideas. It’s not super complicated, connects everything else I use. And I really just run a lot of different projects based on trial. And then slacks where I’ve got different team. So I have my podcast team, and I have my, you know, video team, and I have my sales team and everyone has their own way to get ahold of me. I’m not a person who likes emails, but I like to be able to get into a conversation and so it’s a lot easier via slack.
Yeah, definitely. I use Trello to organize ways to use it for like my whole life. Like I used to put all kinds of tasks and stuff now I just use it for my podcast, and I need to get my life back organized on trailer again.
Yeah, I never used it for my life. I’ve always used it for business and more. So projects. So I’m trying to launch something I’ve got, you know, knock out I’m going to launch and another thing I did was fun when I launched my podcast at SF Hello board or getting reviews and you know, what social media networks I’ve used to do I reach out to and, you know, moving them from they said, they review to I send them a thank you note to all these
different sorts of things. So I have my podcast interviews and everything on there. And then when I move certain cards to certain list, I have it tied to Zapier. So certain things happen, like WordPress post is scheduled, or something like that. So yeah, I have some pretty fancy things going on in here. But sometimes I like air table little bit more, because you can do more. But then there are certain things like lists that you can’t do there that you can do on
Yeah, yeah, I mean, it’s easy to get stuck in this place of like valuing tools. And Leslie because I, you know, being entrepreneurship for probably like eight years now, I mean, I’ve literally use every single tool I, you know, anyone has ever used and for a long time, I get stuck in like, Oh, well, which one to us? And having moved from business to business business, I used to every time you know, someone on my team had a preference, I would just go there stressing go their suggestion, and that ended up just getting too much. I wanted to decentralize. So now, I don’t know if it’s just like, where I’m at in my life as an entrepreneur. But now it’s very, very different. When other people say, Oh, I’m going to add you to base camp for I’ll set you up and are assigned. I say, No, no, no, no, I use cello and I’ll add board there. And you can do anything and everything there too. And I think just setting those boundaries is really helpful because you don’t want to be her son with, you know, 15 tabs open.
Yeah, I’ve tried other project management type software, but there it is. It is so hard to do that simple things that travel does and access them.
Where can listeners find you online? What’s your website where your social media
Awesome, so I am on Instagram at the one year I have a podcast, iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play Spotify, pretty much everywhere. And that’s the one year project podcast where you can listen to people who rapidly transform their life in business in just one year. And my website is Brandon’s I checked. Awesome. Brianna, thank you so much for sharing your story with us today. Awesome. Thank you so much for having me. It’s been lovely and thank you again.
Cindy Rodriguez is the host of the Start Fierce Business Podcast. When she’s not interviewing awesome entrepreneurs, she’s working on growing her startup, going to Disney World with her daughter, or reading a book.