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EPISODE 2: Meet Your Co-host, Jessi Honard

by Oct 6, 2020Podcast

In this episode we will cover:

  • How Jessi + Marie met
  • Why we started our business + what it looked like
  • Jessi’s affinity for the “Wizard of Oz” concept (+ how it relates to what she does now)
  • How communication can have real impact
  • What she’s learned through having this business

Who IS Jessi Honard, anyway? This episode is all about Jessi. And Marie. And how they met, became instant camping buddies, and then birthed a business within 6 months of meeting each other. {Hey, when you know, you know!}

 

You’ll also learn: 

  • The North Star Origin Story {aka How it All Began}
  • What it looks like to pivot in your business {because we’ve totally done it!}
  • The “Wizard of Oz Concept” and how it relates to marketing
  • How communication can have real impact
  • What Jessi has learned in the journey
  • Fun facts and future business dreams {and why it matters to you!}

 

Does your business have an “origin story”? {Hint: The answer is yes!} In future episodes, we’re going to look at how using storytelling in telling YOUR story helps you connect to your audience in an authentic way. We’ll also be unpacking the concept of brand voice and how it has EVERYTHING to do with your content marketing strategy. 

 

Make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it! Then tag us on Instagram @northstarmessaging and let us know you’re out there!

 

TRANSCRIPT

Jessie:
Welcome to the Brand Your Voice Podcast, where we're digging into how you can create personality driven content that connects and converts. I'm Jessie...

Marie:
And I'm Marie. We're the co-founders of North Star Messaging and Strategy, where we support business owners and outsourcing content without sacrificing authenticity.

Jessie:
Every brand has a unique voice that sets it apart. We're digging into how to capture the way your brand communicates, from the words you use to the stories you tell, so you can create more compelling content that strategically helps you meet your business goals.

Marie:
And if you choose to outsource that content, you'll be able to do so with confidence, knowing your brand voice is in good hands and you can reclaim your time. We're so glad you're here and hope you enjoy this episode.
Hello, and welcome to episode two of the Brand Your Voice Podcast. We're going to do something a little different this episode, all though, that sounds silly to say considering we're only on episode two. But it's just going to be a little bit different from what we have planned for you going forward. We want to offer you a chance to get to know us, your co-hosts, before we ask you to spend too much time with us on this podcast. We want you to know who we are, why we're passionate about this work, why we feel qualified to talk about it, and also the fact that we're just giant nerds.
So I am Marie, and I'm going to be interviewing Jessie today. And before we dive in, just a little bit of context around us together, we met in, I want to say 2009. Is that right, Jessie?

Jessie:
I believe so. Yeah. Very end of 2009.

Marie:
And within six months we owned a business together. At the time, the business was very different. It was very small. In fact, there was totally one client that sent an email to us that we didn't even notice for a month or two at least. It may have been more than that.
It was kind of back burner-y at the time. But we, from the very beginning, had two things that we were really focused on. One was serving your clients and helping them find their brand voice, although we didn't know that's what it was at the time. But we were really focused on, what makes our clients stand out? What makes them special and how can we demonstrate that through content creation?
And then the other piece of this was we decided that internally we would always have a friends, I'm from North Carolina, friends first policy.
And this is how I think we've avoided a lot of business blowups that other partnerships might've experienced over the years, that we were saying the other day, I don't know that we've actually ever had an argument. I think we've had disagreements. But it's been a really joyful process of... And sometimes stressful, but in terms of us working together, it's been a lot of fun, and can't imagine doing this without you, Jessie.
So that's a little bit of background on us and the business together. So my first interview question for you then, Jessie, is, do you have anything to add to that?

Jessie:
I don't think so. I think you covered it pretty well. Yeah. I think he did a good job. I will add, actually I do always like to mention the origination of this business and what we were doing, because I think it's important to kind of see the through line, which is, when we first started this business back in 2010, we were focused primarily on writing resumes and cover letters.
Nowadays, we write a lot of content for business owners, nonprofits, a very different type of content, a lot of blog posts, articles, website copy, things like that, emails. But, the thing that has always really stuck with me, like Marie said, we didn't know what it was at the time, but way back when we were helping people during the recession, write a cover letter that really made them stand out from the hundreds, if not thousands, of other applicants, what we were doing was finding their voice and finding their personality and how to really make them shine in that very busy marketplace.
And that's still what we do just in a different costume.

Marie:
Exactly. So, I want to know what it is about the work that we do now that you love. And through the many, many changes that we've experienced over the years, why do you keep coming back to this work and thinking, hey, I think this is worth my time and energy?

Jessie:
Yeah. I don't even know if you know this story, Marie.

Marie:
What?

Jessie:
I know. So my very first job out of college was teaching. I was a high school English teacher. I taught persuasive writing and rhetoric. The course, for those of you in the States, was AP Language and Composition, if you're familiar with it. And prior to getting that job, I had to put together an education portfolio, essentially. And one of the things you write in your portfolio is a philosophy of education. And I remember my philosophy of education, the paper that I wrote, was all about becoming... It's super cheesy in hindsight. But it was all about becoming a ghost writer of the lives of students.

Marie:
Aw. [crosstalk 00:05:28].

Jessie:
I know, I know, like writing a little chapter out of their lives. But I was thinking about that recently because I've been fascinated by the idea of ghost writing my entire life. And if you're not familiar with the concept, ghost writing is something that happens in the fiction industry a lot where someone will hire someone else to write the book. They might provide an outline. They might provide some details. But a hired writer will write the book, but the person who did the hiring is the name on the book. And so the writer doesn't necessarily run around with their name on the front of the novel, but they still put the work in and had a significant contribution.
And I've always been fascinated by this idea of ghost writing, of being the creator behind the scenes who puts the pieces together and creates this finished product. And I took that into teaching, and I took that into writing, and into the work that we do now. And I think that to this day still is something that really excites me, is being sort of the Wizard of Oz, like wizard behind the scenes, putting these pieces together and making things work, and playing with the language and coming up with something that allows our clients to really shine.

Marie:
Yeah. And I think it really requires that we understand what they want to say, and we really honor that. And so I think that's something that, yeah, you've been training for with probably way less receptive high school students for many, many years.
So let's dive into your professional background then. So you taught English. This was, by the way, I took this course when I was a high school student too. And this was what I considered the more boring of the AP English classes because I was into fiction. But I have a feeling you probably made it a lot of fun for your students. In fact, well, nevermind. That's a story for another day.
So tell me what else happened in your professional journey to lead to where you are now?

Jessie:
Yeah, absolutely. First of all, I was very resistant to teaching AP Lang because, for the exact reason you just said, I was a fiction lover, I wanted to teach fiction. I didn't want to teach this course that was all about rhetoric and writing essays that are persuasive, and analyzing political speeches, and marketing. It just sounded boring. And then I got into it and it was fascinating, because it combined two of the things that I really enjoy, writing and psychology, which I'm fascinated by. And so I was able to look at how communication can really drive change and have an impact in the real world. By the end of my years teaching that, I was totally won over by the idea of all of this rhetorical language, persuasive writing, communication as a really, really effective medium to make things happen.
And I brought that into my next job, which was at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. It was a job that I both loved and was terrified of.

Marie:
I remember.

Jessie:
Because, it was a marketing and sales position. And at least early on, it leaned very heavy on the sales. I was responsible for selling field trips to school districts. So I would get in my little car, my little two door Toyota Echo and drive to the hundreds of schools around the Houston area and talk with the people there about booking field trips. And I am not the person who's like, yes, I'm super extroverted, want to go out and talk to people and sell things. It was a really a challenge for me to practice that. And then also on the marketing side, to start creating and developing these marketing materials that I had tangentially studied and taught as a teacher, but hadn't actually put the practice in the real world.
Being able to develop those marketing materials and see what worked and what didn't, and then see the results in real time when I was in wearing my sales hat, was really interesting and allowed me to develop this appreciation for the union between marketing and sales and how they build off of each other, while also continuing, because I was on field trips so I was technically in the education department. So I was also able to continue building upon my education background and just create a nice union of all of those.

Marie:
Absolutely. And for those of you listening, our wonderful Jessie has her master's in education and is pretty incredible. So that's kind of what led you, and what you brought with you when North Star became our full-time gig. What do you feel you've learned since?

Jessie:
So much. Such a loaded question.

Marie:
It's not meant to be loaded.

Jessie:
Well, I've learned a lot in a lot of different capacities. So I've learned a lot as a marketer and a writer, and I've learned a lot as a business owner, and I've learned a lot as a co-owner of a business. So I think there's a lot of different ways to answer that question.
I think if I had to boil it down to the one thing that is the biggest lesson, it's to always be learning, always be adapting, and be flexible, and be growing. Because the things that I learned way back when I was a high school teacher are still incredibly useful today, and there's still so much to learn, every single day. There's new things coming out. There's new ways that people are connecting and communicating. And I think it's important to always be approaching your field, no matter how long you've been in it, with this sense of excitement, and wonder, and joy.

Marie:
I love that. It reminds me of the book that you hooked me on, The Art of Possibility by the Zanders, just always looking towards opportunity.

Jessie:
Yeah. Absolutely.

Marie:
So speaking of opportunity, we've had a lot of opportunities to work with a huge diverse range of clients. Are there any of those projects, just so our listeners can have an idea, excuse me, of what our projects look like, are there any projects that have been favorites of yours, or ones where you feel like you've learned a lot?

Jessie:
I think every project I learned something. Even if it's a project where it's the same exact type of project I've done a million times before, there's always some nuance that is adding to my virtual toolbox of things that I know and ways that I can approach things moving forward.
As far as favorites, I don't like to play favorites with our clients. Because they're all incredible. And they're all amazing. And the projects are all phenomenal.
But I think I really like the projects where I can see the direct impact. So projects that are in the field of education, which is a field that is very close and dear to my heart because of my own background, where we're able to actually see that the content that we've created, especially over a period of an extended period of time for some of the clients that have been around for awhile, has had more than just the immediate impact. It's had a long-term impact, and you can see the longevity of it.
Clients in the nonprofit sphere that we've served, who help people who are really in need. And it's always really humbling to be able to be of service in the small way that we can. I think that those would be some of the projects that, really, I hold near and dear to my heart. I'm also just, I love projects that are interesting too, that allow me to really look behind the scenes of someone else's business and see what they're doing, and how they're innovating, and how they're getting creative and really upping the game in their own industries.

Marie:
Yeah, absolutely. There's always so much to learn from, not just a project, but how other industries behave and operate. So I totally agree with you there.
Looking to the future, where do you see are some opportunities for our company and our team and our clients, even, to grow? Where do you see the future taking this whole crazy entrepreneurial experiment?

Jessie:
Well, I really hope you're on the same page as me.

Marie:
Yeah, I'm asking this question because it's this or we're done. No, I'm kidding.

Jessie:
No hurt.
Our very first episode was about brand voice. And as we go forward and record more episodes, this is going to be a recurring theme. We're going to talk about brand voice a lot. And I think that the answer to that question is inherent in that, because as people who have been in the industry, developing content, participated in the creation of content strategy, content marketing, and copywriting, what we've seen and heard time and time again is that business owners struggle to find a way to capture their voice. And then they struggle again when it's time to outsource that voice to someone else.
And our process that we've developed to really make that possible, I think, is something that is really needed in the writing world. I think it's something that every copywriter, every content creator should have in their toolbox. And so when we're looking at the future of North Star, I see it as a place where business owners, and entrepreneurs, and CEOs can continue to come and have their content created in a way that's super authentic to them, personality driven, hits their strategic goals and all of that. And I see it as a place that can serve as a resource to writers who want to be able to do that for their clients as well.

Marie:
Absolutely. So stay tuned if that's you, dear reader? Dear Listener. Whatever. I mean, if you're reading via the transcript, the supplies.
So, excellent. Can I ask some questions just about you? Not just in the context of work?

Jessie:
No, you're not allowed.

Marie:
Oh, all right. Well, I guess we're done.

Jessie:
Go ahead.

Marie:
Okay. So where do you live?

Jessie:
I currently live in the Bay Area of California. I tend to move around quite a bit, but I've actually managed to call California home for about the last four years, five years, ish.

Marie:
Cool. And where did you grow up?

Jessie:
I grew up in Ohio. So Marie provides the y'alls and I provide the, you're calling it pop and not soda.

Marie:
If we must.

Jessie:
I also lived in Texas for eight years, so I feel like I can drop an occasional y'all, but it sounds really weird with my Midwest accent. So I don't force it on people much.

Marie:
Yeah. You know, it's something, right? It's a cool, eclectic mix. When you're not hanging out with me doing podcast episodes, or you're not working with our clients or a team, where are you? What are you doing?

Jessie:
Well, usually, just for some context, for those of you who are listening in the future, we are recording this during COVID times. So right now the answer is, I stay in my apartment a lot.

Marie:
Don't we all?

Jessie:
Yes. But usually, I love rock climbing. I love hiking. I love getting outside, camping, doing anything that involves being outside and away from my computer, because I spend so much time at my computer, it's nice for me to have that separation. I'm also an avid reader, writer. I love sci-fi fantasy and horror. I am a total nerd, as Marie mentioned at the very beginning of this episode.
Usually it's one of those things. Although we did recently get a PlayStation VR and I've been playing a of Beat Saber, so I'm adding that to my list for right now.

Marie:
I like that you say, although, as if this qualifies that you're not a nerd. I also have Beat Saber on PlayStation 4 VR, so also a nerd over here.
Excellent. Do you have a favorite video game series?

Jessie:
I do have a favorite video game series, prefaced with, I don't play a lot of video games. So I'm definitely not very on the up and up on what is good, and what's out, and all of that. But I have always been a huge fan of the Kingdom Hearts series. It's great storytelling throughout, and just a lot of fun, and I love Disney, so it's good stuff.

Marie:
Yeah. You're lucky I'm not breaking out in a song right now.
And final question then would be, you said you love reading, so is there a favorite book that you've read recently?

Jessie:
Several, actually, I'm very proud of myself. I've been reading a lot more this year than I have in the past. It fell on the back burner for a while.
I'd say that the most recent book that I really enjoyed was the, it's the second book in the Lady Astronaut series by Mary Robinette Kowal. The first book is called The calculating Stars. The second book is called The Faded Sky. And it's this alternate history series about what would have happened to the space race if a meteor had hit the earth in the, I think it was the late 1950s, like 1959 or something.
And it's essentially, like if you liked Hidden Figures, it's similar to that, except of course, Hidden Figures is based off of true events and not a meteor hitting the earth. But it has a similar field because it explores themes like feminism. It explores themes like racial disparity, especially during that time period, post-World War II, and also space. So it's a lot of fun.

Marie:
Excellent recommendation.
Awesome. Well, thank you for hanging out with me and answering my barrage of questions. I appreciate it. And I hope that you as the listener have a better feel of who Jessie is so that when she's doling out the advice or truth bombs, sounds awkward to say, when I said it it sounded better in my head, you will know who she is, and that she is mighty smart and mighty qualified to be doing this work.
So thank you, Jessie.

Jessie:
Stay tuned because Marie is next.

Marie:
Ah.

Jessie:
Thanks for joining us for this episode of the Brand Your Voice Podcast. Make sure to visit our website, northstarmessaging.com, where you can subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify, and more.

Marie:
If you found value in this episode, we'd love for you to leave us a review on iTunes and share it with your friends. Thank you and happy content creating.

For additional content strategy and branding tips, check out northstarmessaging.com/blog. Also, please tag us on Instagram and let us know you’re out there! @northstarmessaging 


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