The one thing you must do before 2016


The one thing you must do before 2016

The origin of the word January, dates back to Janus who was the Roman god of doors, and had two faces, one looking forward and one back. Caesar named the first month of the year, after the God’s name, appropriately so.

As we open one door and close another, it is important to honor the year we had, and prepare for the one coming up. 

Whether it is a new year, a birthday, a breakup, or vacation, these events symbolize opportunities to begin again, to commit or recommit.

Most importantly with a new beginning comes momentum. Momentum gives you the energy to restart.

To help you look back at 2015 and set intentions for 2016, my team and I at The Passion Co. created Reflect — the ultimate guide for the new year. 

Download for free

With questions, prompts and beautiful design, you can enjoy this free guide with your friend, partner or on your own.

The guide focuses on key areas of your life:

Two years ago today, I gathered in my friend’s living room in San Francisco with 6 other girlfriends. We each brought our favorite beverage, and for 3 hours that evening, we envisioned our 2016, we set goals, chose a word for the year, and went into the new year with clarity and preparation.

With this free guide, you can do the same with your friends. 

During this holiday season, we invite you to pause with your close ones, and prepare for a new year to come, a new start, and many good things.

Download for free

To a wonderful 2016!
Jessica & The Passion Co. team


A Year of Passion


A Year of Passion

Unexpected learning from leaving my full-time job to run the company of my dreams.

About 9 months ago, I left Airbnb to focus full-time on The Passion Co.. Here are some of the unexpected learning.

Get Naked

I woke up in the middle of night sweating. I thought I was dying. I could not breathe. I opened the window and hung my head out of it, trying to capture any air that would make it into my lungs. After a few minutes I laid into my bed, and tried to return to my sleep.

The next morning I brushed the incident as isolated, and went on with my day. Two days later, the same thing happened. Another painful and isolated incident I thought.

When it happened for the third time, I knew there was something wrong. I was able to start looking at these incidents as data points to indicate some hidden anxiety.

The anxiety turns out started, when a friend was laid off from a new and on the surface successful start-up overnight. The first thought that came to mind was what if things do not go as planned and I have to do the same. When you do something from passion, the people that work with are not just employees. They become family, people you care deeply about. And as in any start-up, things did start going wrong.

What came next were the panic attacks. The solution? Getting naked.

I like to think of vulnerability as getting out in the freezing cold night, naked, jumping in the ocean. Someone stands outside watching you. Thy have the choice to help you on the way out. But you should be also be prepared for they may turn their back and never return.

I got naked with my team. I told them that things were not going as planned, and despite the uncertainty, I have their best interest at heart. My choice went against everything I was taught in all of my jobs, and even at business school. Being vulnerable with your employees is a no no, they said, it makes you look weak and you lose your allure as a leader.

I had to. I could not show up to work, pretending everything is a smooth sail when things were not. That was not me, and exactly why I left the corporate world. Besides bringing us closer, opening up meant having us work together towards a solution.

Do what you hate

When you start pursuing your passion full-time, you expect to be spending at least half of your time doing that exact thing you enjoy. Turns out the number 1 task of a business owner, whatever business you start, is selling. Selling to your potential employees, selling to customers and investors. Even selling to yourself on hard days.

I was caught off guard by how much I dreaded selling. I soon started coming up with excuses so I do not do it. One of them was deciding not to fundraise for the company. While I still think it was a good decision, I am now more honest with myself that the main reason was how much I could not stand selling.

It turns out, and after digging deeper, we hate selling because we fear rejection. And the rejection whiplash is greater when it is your own company or product. How to overcome that fear? Reframe and practice. Jia Jiang, the expert on rejection, now a friend, taught me to look at rejection as a win. That helped a lot, for example, in getting sponsorships for our conference.

But most importantly, I learned that I still had a decent amount of self-doubt, that made it harder to sell my dream. And not being an employee means you have to deal with your self-doubt. You cannot blame your boss or the system. You are the boss and the system.

How to measure success

Want to be popular and loved by everyone? Do not start a business.

You are going to make mistakes. Some people are going to view you as competition. You are going to let down an employee, a customer. You may not show compassion at all times. The difference between before and now that I am a full-time founder, is that I am held to a higher standard and therefore people judge me harsher, and I don’t blame them.

I used to measure success, with ensuring everyone is happy. After trying to constantly please everyone, I was exhausted and was spending energy on what could have been building the business. I finally accepted the fact that there are those who will not like my way and that is okay. I cannot sweat it constantly, take it personal and have it affect my self-worth.

The zone

Congratulations! said everyone when we launched the conference. I could not take it in, because how can you congratulate me if 99% of the work is yet to be done?

People from the outside are so excited for you, that they miss that doing what you love for a living means you have all of your skin in the game, and it is stressful and at times terrifying. But this time you cannot complain.

Because weren’t you the one who was talking non stop about how it is so important for you to pursue your dreams? and doing a soulless job should never be allowed? Well that same you is suddenly hanging out on the less greener side of passion. And you are left with your problems.

That was one unexpected situation I found myself in. The no complaint zone. Eventually, the no complaint zone served me well, and made me realize how easy, and cheap, well it is free, it is for us to complain about our jobs. It is after all a form of social bonding that I lost. And so I found another more efficient way: a close circle of other entrepreneurs I trusted that allowed me to both vent and brainstorm solutions.

The cup 100% full

Your cup. You must ensure your cup is refilled at all costs. Some people call it self-care, others self-love, I call it the #1 must. After all, you left stability to do something you believe in so do not lose you along the way. Because then what is the point? I say this, as I struggle to write this article. Why? Because I burned myself out.

Last week, 7 x 7 magazine wrote me that I was selected as one the top 20 movers and shakers of the Bay Area for 2015. What did I feel? Nothing. My cup is empty. And it gets harder to fill it when you have not for a while. Because even the water dries. So first, I am letting the ice melt. And slowly and gently I shall refill. So I can come back a better leader, entrepreneur and most importantly, human being.

Itfeels pertinent to go back to the original meaning of passion, in latin: suffering. And it is even more pertinent to go back to what we teach atThe Passion Co.: a passion is an expression of your life’s meaning. The truth is, I have never felt more fulfilled in my entire life as much as I feel today. The work I do brings meaning to my existence. And I will keep going because as Victor Frankl said: When you know your why, you can survive any how. To surviving, learning, thriving and keeping it real. Grateful for all those who supported me and continue to do so.


Announcing Start Workshops - October 24


Announcing Start Workshops - October 24

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Workshop Session 3



Connecting with Strangers with Ankit Shah

So much of today's society focuses on what makes each of us different, what makes us special and unique. At some times this can be empowering, but in others it can create distance between us — diminishing community in favor of individuality. Ankit Shah will lead a discussion around what makes us the same and all attendees will have a chance to enjoy a few activities they can bring into their daily lives to more easily see this truth.

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Make Jewelry with Maggi Simpkins

Discover the art of wax carving and lost-wax casting, an ancient technique that dates back to over 5700 years ago. Each student will learn how to design and create their own ring! During this workshop we will focus on sculpting with 'beginner friendly' soft wax.  Students will  learn to use basic tools and techniques to design and create a custom ring out of wax.

Head Wrapping with Juliana Luna

A head wrap is a West African symbol of female power, beauty, essence and uniqueness. Using this ancient symbol, join Luna in creating a bridge between cultures, relationships, human and divine connection, feminine energy and intuitive guidance, tapping into inner power, the African way.


Create your Business Website with Peter Rubin

In this workshop for coaches, creatives, and passion-driven entrepreneurs, you will learn how to create a quick and awesome website for your business that gets you clients or customers.


How to Write Your First Book with Adam Poswolsky

Have you always wanted to write a book but never known where to start? This workshop will discuss strategies for overcoming your inner-critic, clarifying your message, committing to a regular writing practice, outlining your story, and developing a personal schedule for writing your first book.


Pricing Strategy with Kristen Berman

Kristen Berman from Irrational Labs will review why people are willing to pay sometimes and not other times. She'll discuss the psychology of money: How do your users view your pricing page? How could you design a pricing strategy that increases your product's perception of value? What are the key academic learnings from behavioral economics you should consider? This session will go beyond just decoys and dive deep into the general framing of your value proposition.


Zine Making with Amy Wibowo

Have you ever been intimidated by starting a project because you're worried that it won't come out perfect? Zines are perfect for you! The point of zines isn't to be perfect, they're meant to be raw, creative, unpolished, weird, and you. This workshop will cover the history of zines, zine formats and binding types, topic brainstorming, and a walk through of making your own zine!


Mindfulness 101 with Kim Nicol

Learn the basics of mindfulness, a super-power that can help you handle stress, negative self-talk, and distractions.  Discover how being mindful can naturally unlock your creativity, resilience, and focus, and make it easier to surf the highs and lows that come with following your passion project. In this workshop, you’ll get clear on what mindfulness is, and learn specific, sustainable practices you can start using immediately.

Brainhack Your Way to Success and Leave Resistance Behind with Katia Verresen


 In order to experience our pure potential, we need to overcome our limiting beliefs and any form of unconscious self-sabotage. Katia has coached top performers for the past 15 years, and what she teaches them is in order to reach our ambitious vision we need to scale our habits, our capabilities, our thinking and how we define ourselves, in other words we need to upgrade our internal operating system.  This workshop will cover proven change patterns and brain hacks so you can reach your goals and stop getting in your way now. 


Food Styling & Photography (Part 1) with Leen Al Zaben

Intro to food styling and photography. Learn the basics: how to use your camera to photograph food, learn about light and get a basic introduction to food styling. (Note: this is a Part 1 and 2 workshop during sessions 2 and 3).


Customer Discovery with Elliott Adams

In this workshop, we'll look at specific tactics for talking with customers. Learn how to better understand your customer's needs, save precious time and resources, and build a better product!


Painting a Single Canvas Using Your Whole Brain with Nima Veiseh

You are your own Canvas.  Most of our creative, professional and passion blocks are rooted in layers of obstructions in our own minds.  During our workshop, each participant will be given a canvas and a series of painting tools, and through successive iterations of painting, you will overcome your own doubts as a creative, and learn how identifying and overcoming obstructions in your thought process can make you a more efficient worker and creative individual.


The Secret Ingredient: Create the cookbook you've always dreamed of with Terry Romero

Join author Terry Hope Romero for a workshop that's not just about writing recipes, it's about using the cookbook as a medium to share with others your own highly personal yet lasting culinary narrative!


5 Steps to a Compelling Presentation with Lauren Weinstein

Successful speakers understand the power of authentic, memorable communication. This workshop will focus on the 5 essential elements of effective presentations: calm + confidence, a clear message, compelling language, strong vocals, and powerful body language. You will leave this workshop with tools and best practices for crafting and delivering a compelling message that will resonate with your audience.


Overcome Roadblocks with Design Thinking with Tracy DeLuca

You’ve got a passion project but keep hitting roadblocks along the way? Great, you are human! In this workshop, we’ll use the human-centered, creative problem solving process called Design Thinking to help you leap over hurdles and move towards your goals. Come prepared to share a current challenge and we’ll brainstorm strategies for overcoming it.

Building Your First Community with David Spinks

David, an expert at community building will lead you through exercises to build your first community, and give you tips and tools to make it successful. 

iPhone Photography with Omid Scheybani

Walk around the dogpatch neighborhood and learn from Omid the secret of great iPhone photography and get to snap your own photos.



Singing with Claire Gendler

Students will learn the fundamentals of vocal and performance technique in a low-pressure, supportive group environment and will have the opportunity to work on a vocal piece of their choice and receive technical and artistic support and feedback. Perform your piece on Sunday of the conference too!


Rejection Challenge with Jia Jiang

In this workshop, Jia will share his story of how he overcame the fear of rejection and give practical lessons on how conquering your fear of rejection can lead to a more fearless and meaningful life. He'll guide you through your own rejection attempts and give real time feedback for attendees so you can learn how to position yourself for more yesses, become a better negotiator and not be afraid of asking for what you want in life.


Food Styling & Photography (Part 2) with Leen Al Zaben

Intro to food styling and photography. Learn the basics: how to use your camera to photograph food, learn about light and get a basic introduction to food styling. (Note: this is a Part 1 and 2 workshop during sessions 2 and 3).


Music Writing with Dan Mascola

Learn to write a song about anything with Dan.  He can help you get started on writing music on a variety of topics from a love song to a song about a sea slug and a silly blind duck. You never know what may inspire you.


Launch Your Kickstarter with Terry Romero

Join Kickstarter’s Outreach Lead Terry Hope Romero for a workshop to learn the ins and outs of developing a successful Kickstarter campaign.


Street Photography with Dijon Bowden

Street photography is an amazing way to see the world in a different light. When you go out on the streets to take pictures your senses become heightened because everything is potential art. This class is for anyone who wants to develop their photography skills while exploring their city and getting to know it and it's residents on a deeper level.

Starting a Food Brand with Jordan Schuster

Explore the elements of building brands that take on a life of their own. What gives a brand the ability to leave an impression and an impact upon its patrons? What can we do to make your brand compelling and unforgettable while also scalable? In this workshop we will discuss existing brands and how to reverse-engineer their assets for your own success.


Introduction to Watercolor with Lindsay Norman

If you've ever wanted to try watercolor, this class is for you! We'll explore color mixing, texture, and how to avoid the most common mistakes made in watercolor. After going over the fundamentals we'll create 2 small paintings that will show off your new skill. With the holiday season just around the corner, it'll be perfect timing for you to learn this whimsical art form.

Build your Website with Squarespace hosted by Squarespace

Learn how to build your own Squarespace website with the experts themselves. Join our sponsors hosting this interactive workshop where you will walk away with a website of your own.


5 ways how Start will benefit your Passion Project / Business


5 ways how Start will benefit your Passion Project / Business

Participating in the Start Conference this October will give you a powerful push to take your passion project to the next level. It doesn’t matter where you are starting from zero or a hundred, we all need motivation and support to keep going. Here are the top ways that Start will benefit your existing Passion Project.

1. Investment in yourself

Investing in yourself over and over again is the secret to living with passion and meaning as well as making a difference. At Start you will have time to recommit to yourself. By taking the weekend to focus on what is truly meaningful to you and doing it, you are giving yourself some of the best love there is and exactly what’s necessary to have your passion project thrive. Remember this wise saying,

Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” - Howard Thurman      

2. Practical learning from speakers

Hearing from those that have started, failed and succeeded can empower us to move forward. Everyone who is successful got started somewhere. We have specially selected speakers to deliver Start Talks to share the vulnerable stories of their beginnings: their struggles, challenges, rejections and tips to success. Taking the tools and teaching will help you develop your passion project or business strategically.

3. New connections

We can’t do it alone. At Start you will meet and connect with hundreds of other like-minded who there to help you in different areas of your project. The diverse learning community at Start will give you the support, accountability and motivation to take major steps throughout the weekend, and continue on with your project into the future with a new supportive community.

4. Further Action

At Start you are going to get shit done. There are over 30 workshops to choose from that will help you build skills and get your hands dirty. There will be an ongoing creative bazaar for you to cowork with all the resources and tools you need at your disposal. Also, there will be coaches all weekend to support you if you get stuck.  

5. Chance to win a Passion Project Award

At Start you have the chance to share your project with the world. Apply to pitch your project on the last day of the Start conference to a panel of judges including a representative from Kickstarter and win gifts worth over $3000. The exposure and prizes will take your project to the next level. Deadline to apply is October 12th, 9 AM PST. Apply and learn more here.