Fresh Take Friday: Jonathan Jones



Photo: Jonathan Jones

Photo: Jonathan Jones

Your latest book focuses on a subject that our generation often wrestles with - PROCESS. What lessons have you learned on your own journey about the power of process, and what advice do you have for our generation on the importance of enduring and appreciating it? 

JJ: First, I had to learn to be patient. Nothing happens overnight; we’re in a rush to make it to the top of the mountain, but why? I’ve learned that most growth and fulfillment takes place through the midst of working and through daily perseverance.  By learning to go through the process of our lives, you realize that you cannot skip steps. Imagine if a caterpillar just turned into a butterfly without going into its cocoon; it wouldn’t have the strength that it would need in order to fly. The process is necessary for your own personal growth.  When we skip steps, we miss out on valuable information and life lessons that we need to access the next stage in our lives.

Next, like the old folks use to say, “Get your house in order.” If we’re being honest, there are some challenges that each and every one of us face. You know that thing that you may have blocked off or that you are currently have trouble dealing with, I suggest seeking help. I want you to know that you aren’t alone; we all have some type of baggage. There are many therapists, recovery programs, and church initiatives for whatever that need may be. We all have some area of opportunities (others label them as weaknesses) in our lives that could be a little bit stronger. Once you begin to invest in yourself by dealing with these issues you will begin to feel freer than you’ve ever been. Don’t allow your past to hold you back from being present in your future!

One of your recent blog posts discusses "Mountains and Valleys in Entrepreneurship" and how everything about working for yourself isn't always going to be glitter and gold. When did you realize that you wanted to pursue entrepreneurship full-time, and how did you prepare? What keeps you focused on executing to the best of your ability, even when you're faced with adversity? 

JJ: Out one day, exhausted at the last retail job I had, I thought to myself, "This can't be it." From delivering phone books door-to-door, to tossing boxes off the back of a delivery truck. I knew that the calling on my life was far greater than for me to sit here working at a retail job the rest of my life. After realizing that I had a voice and realizing that I wanted to be the individual that wanted to inspire my generation, I said it’s time for me to step it up.  

First, I hired my father, Dr. Fred Jones, to walk me through the process of writing my Amazon #1 Best-Selling book. He showed me that by writing my book, it would create instant credibility and make me the expert of my own story. Next, I hired a coach because I didn’t know what I didn’t know, so utilizing the knowledge of someone who’s been in this space for sometime in conjunction with the information my father shared, I began to slowly put the pieces in place. During this time, I already had one foot out the door at my job, while still working to create my own personal enterprise. Lastly, I left my full time job and began to drive for Uber during nights and weekends while I had my days to work on balancing business and graduate school.

The best way to keep me focused might sound contradictory, but it's creating an interruption in my daily routine. I have to get up and away from my desk to be able to gather my thoughts. Sometimes this may look like taking a casual 30 minute nap Sunday afternoon that turns into two hours, but then I'm charged and ready to work through the hours of the creative at around 2 or 3 am. When adversity strikes, I have to get out of my head! Some days just taking a leisurely stroll around the block to unplug leaving all electronics behind and to be present with the world around me, the birds chirping and the sun shining. Following this, I return to my to-do list with a clear mind and an attack mindset!

In a 'perfect' world, what does a day of productivity look like to you? What tools are you using to get sh*t done, and what are major distractions you do you best to avoid? 

JJ: My most productive days start off with my gospel grooves playlist, followed by me taking in some bible verses and prayer to center myself, getting my mind, body and soul focused on the day ahead. I’ve realized that without a daily planner, my thoughts are scattered all over the place. 

With my daily planner, I take notes and utilize a system called time blocking so that I will be able to be most effective for that day. The strategy of time blocking is simple: create a list, label which projects are of the highest priority or which have quickly approaching deadlines. Next, I incorporate them into my Google Calendar, allotting a certain amount of time each item. This way, I create mini deadlines or checkpoints to hold myself accountable. I also set reminders on my iPhone and use Hootsuite to pre-schedule my social media content. 

If you don’t follow the guidelines you set, it’ll begin to infect your relationships, your lifestyle and most definitely your business. Respect your schedule and value your time.

When you find yourself in a rut, (emotionally or creatively) what are some things that you do change your mood? Who (or what) do you turn to for encouragement, and how do you persevere, even when you may want to remain stuck in your feelings? 

JJ: I take a moment for myself and I have to literally give it to God. No matter how bad the mood may be in, I have to shoot up a quick prayer. Then, there are few people that I will call to help me snap out of those dark places and dark moments. One is my best friend, Mahiri Takai; he helps remind me not to be so hard on myself and continues to encourage me. Also watching YouTube videos of people like Will Smith, Tony Robbins, Kobe Bryant and other individuals who have been able to yield success in their respective fields. Lastly, I’ve realized that when I find myself stuck in my feelings, the thing that really brightens my day is giving back and helping others. It might be doing a favor for a friend or taking someone out to eat. When you can, begin to channel that energy that you are focusing on yourself and shift the focus to doing something for others, I think that’s the best way to see what truly matters in life. I whole heartily believe we are blessed to be a blessing to others.

How would you describe your 'fresh take' on creativity? What keeps you inspired to develop new ideas and collaborate with other creatives? 

JJ: USE YOUR GIFT! I don't care who you are, you are more creative than you think, I promise. It’s just tough for me when I hear people reflecting on their lives saying, “I wish I did this or I should have done that,” often seeming like they allowed themselves to have these regrets that could have potentially been eliminated.

I love to collaborate with others because I know that I am not a Jack-of-all-trades.  I view collaboration as an opportunity to expand the impact and increase the reach while making a world of difference. Working with other experts, they are able to present different approaches or dynamics that I couldn't have even dreamed of. I'm inspired to offer fuel to empower our generation and the generation looking up to us because there’s so much potential in each individual. I’m a firm believer if I do my part to just spark the mind of somebody to do something, then I’ve done my job. Bob Marley said it best, “The people who were trying to make this world worse are not taking the day off. Why should I?”

We must continue to strive to make a difference daily and collaborating with other creative makes this all possible! Stay true to the #process!

3 Brand Marketing Lessons We Can Learn From "Formation"


"Okay ladies (and gents) now let's get in formation..."

This weekend was undoubtedly another big one for multi-platinum artist Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, as she surprised the world yet again with new music, stunning visuals and the announcement of a world tour. But this isn't the first time that Queen Bey has stopped the world and changed the game with her infamous digital drops. On December 13, 2013, she (without warning) released her much anticipated self-titled album that included stimulating music videos for each of the fourteen songs. On November 21, 2014, she casually uploaded the dance anthem "7/11" to her YouTube channel and had the Internet eager to recreate this modern day masterpiece which was filmed using a GoPro camera.

And just this past Saturday afternoon, she shocked us all with the very politically driven video for her latest hit "Formation" in which she discusses the issues of policy brutality, social injustice, southern culture and black feminism. Within hours, millions of people knew the lyrics to the song, were determined to learn the flawless dance moves and began formulating their own opinions about the symbolism behind each frame of the video.


Beyoncé has become quite the queen of mystery in recent years, but she has also created a series of case studies that marketers, publicists and media professionals alike can learn from. While we may not have a multi-million dollar advertising or marketing budget, there are few tactics that you can practice in order to execute a successful brand marketing strategy.


1. Practice the drip effect. In mid-January, rumors began to swirl around the Interwebs that Mrs. Carter was slated to join Coldplay on stage during the Super Bowl 50 Halftime show. That same week, she was spotted on the campus of the University of Southern California, rehearsing for her performance. Days later, Coldplay also released their colorful video for "Hymn For The Weekend" featuring the Houston native. Coincidence? Absolutely not. Beyoncé and her team wanted you to think that she was going to simply join the band on stage and perform this up-beat mellow tune. These subtle drops not only started to created buzz, but they raised eyebrows because it is quite rare that she participates in feature projects at random. In the words of DJ Khaled, "she was up to something."

The lesson here: When it comes to large projects or major roll-outs, it's always imperative to provide your audience with morsels of content to keep them engaged and wanting more. Beyoncé's fans (also known as the #BeyHive) are pretty good at following her lead, but even they didn't see this surprise coming.


2. Tell them less, show them more.  Fast forward to February 6th, when Beyoncé  was like, "Hey, screw your Saturday afternoon" and debuted her newest single "Formation." By now, you would think the world has gotten used to expecting the unexpected from Queen Bey, but without fail the Internet still implodes. On the bass-heavy track, Beyoncé comes out the gate swinging -- acknowledging her "haters", and stating that she's going to stunt in all of her regality regardless of what silly rumors they spew her way:

Y'all haters corny with that Illuminati mess // Paparazzi, catch my fly, and my cocky fresh 

I'm so reckless when I rock my Givenchy dress (stylin') // I'm so possessive so I rock his Roc necklaces

In addition to telling her haters where to go and how to get there, she lets us know that she's quite the boss and is proud of it too. Her canvas is modern-day New Orleans, Louisiana, a city that has experienced its fair share of trials and tribulations over the last decade but whose heart still rings strong in its unique and historical culture.

The lesson here: When it comes to storytelling, make sure the message is authentic, especially if your goal is to connect with or empower a specific audience to take action. In "Formation", Beyoncé highlights that she is not only proud of her southern roots, but also very aware of her impact as a black woman in the 21st century. Over the last 48 hours, Beyonce has inspired numerous conversations about race, class and wealth in this country. And although she admits she has made a lot of money over the course of her career, she's not afraid to remain true to herself.



3. Keep the conversation going.  After being completely overwhelmed by the song and the video, the world woke up Sunday morning wondering what could Queen Bey possibly think of next. Was she going to release another surprise an album? Is there a world tour on the horizon? Maybe both? As expected, she shut it down during her Super Bowl Halftime performance - which has raised even more eyebrows and caused an abundance of controversy. And once the performance was over, there was a 30-second spot announcing her new world tour which will begin this spring.

The lesson here: Continue to give your audience them something to talk about, even after the curtain has closed. A great brand is consistent, so now that you've provided your followers with hints and shown what you're capable of, it's important to maintain that momentum. Beyonce will ride this wave until her album drops, and then switch the course of the conversation (like she always does.) In a similar practice, your audience will be more susceptible to any new and exciting activation ideas you may have coming next.

What's the biggest lesson you learned from Mrs. Carter this weekend? Tweet me your thoughts!