Meet Jessica Higgins, a managing partner at Research + Innovation, a serial entrepreneur, investor, advisor, and an award-winning marketing expert who has helped develop radical organizational growth, including seven of the Fortune 100 companies. She was named a Breakthrough Female Founder by Huffington Post and a Marketing Thought Leader by Forbes.
Who is Jessica Higgins? define yourself
I think a meaningful life is the pursuit of value creation and centered on holistic wellbeing. Friends say a funny, kind, humble, ball of positive energy. In business, I own a fund of funds, an advisory firm, a marketing firm and a venture capital accelerator where I have ownership and management stakes in about half a dozen companies.
How were you as a kid?
Most likely to be found reading, building websites, and writing. Basically, who I am today.
You hold a Juris Doctor of Law, a Masters of Business Management, an executive education certification in Behavior Design from the Behavior Design Lab at Stanford University, as well as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Certification with a specialty in systems design (DMADV), and Bachelors of Arts Degrees in Behavioral Psychology and Political Science. Why did you decide to study all of that?
Those are just certificates of information learned. If we gave out merit badges for continuous learning from books and podcasts, my sash would have the coolest flair. I try to have as many tools possible to apply to grow my businesses, so I am constantly learning.
"Success can be broken down as a formula: a solid foundation + lots of smart execution. Make wise decisions daily, work really hard, stay open to new ideas, collaborate with great people who share your values and goals"
You have worked in different companies in the business area, you were Director of Business Development at Deisell Consultants, LLC. Business Development for Emerging Technologies at Startup World and Principal at Culture Science, how did you jump from that point to be Managing Partner of Research + Innovation?
Mastering marketing, operations management, corporate restructures and culture at some point, you realize that when you understand the art and science of business growth from that many angles, it makes sense to take on investment and advisory positions in promising companies, which is the purpose of Research + Innovation.
For the people who don't know, can you explain briefly and in simple words what services your company offers and what makes it unique on the market?
We take unique positions at the crossroads of technology, finance, marketing, and the legal sector. If a company appears promising but needs intellectual and financial capital to scale, we would examine the business and, if we feel that it is a fit, take an active role in growing that company.
You are a very busy woman living between Miami, FL, San Diego, CA and Charleston, SC. and still have time for volunteering. What drives you?
The opportunity to create a positive change in the world, and caffeine.
You are best known for your work in developing Culture Science, the first end-to-end culture design methodology for culture transformation. You have led the creation, development, and growth of hundreds of businesses, governments, and institutions of higher education, including seven of the Fortune 100 companies. Your first book, The 10 Essential Business Communications Skills, released at #1 on Amazon New Releases for Communication and Behavior Skills. You were named a Breakthrough Female Founder of 2017 by Huffington Post and Marketing Thought A leader in 2019 by Forbes. What's the recipe for your success?
Success can be broken down as a formula: a solid foundation + lots of smart execution. Make wise decisions daily, work really hard, stay open to new ideas, collaborate with great people who share your values and goals. It’s really just Carol Dweck’s resilience quotient with ten plus years of practice behind it.
What is the reality of your day-to-day?
Really flexible, fun and random. I love creating healthy habits so we plan our meetings around different health challenges. Last month we did a walking meetings outdoors. This month we do cryotherapy every day to chat while we freeze together. Next month we’re doing ‘no drinks November’ which means no alcohol all month. The work comes in at all hours, from different time zones and deadlines. I mix in lots of healthy sleep, a workout, meditation and podcasts in between.
Do you have any particular philosophy that guides your career decisions?
Being thoughtful and intentional about creating the culture I want to live in is the guiding philosophy. It defines where I put my attention. Building great teams – yes. Backward social biases – no thanks. There are so many opportunities in the world; I prefer the forward thinkers who value great outcomes. Building those businesses is both more lucrative, and it will create a more interesting future for everyone.
"Being thoughtful and intentional about creating the culture I want to live in is the guiding philosophy. It defines where I put my attention"
What do you love most about your job? & what is the most difficult part?
I have no bad days now because I am surrounded by great people and really fascinating challenges. It has taken a lot to get here and now I’m just loving every moment of it.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else does?
Make lists! Break down everything to achievable action items. Tackle each of them. If you keep putting one-off, it means you’re not passionate and/or that it’s not a core competency, which is an indicator to outsource that task.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Know when you are right, know when you are not right and know when you don’t know.
I was reading you are an expert in crypto currency as well, many people are afraid of it, others are advocates, what can you tell us about it?
Emergent technologies are very interesting because they have so much promise, but unfortunately, many downsides. For instance, when internet companies first began, there were a few good ones, most of them failed, and many of those were probably scammers trying to make a quick dollar. That model is, unfortunately, not new, but doesn’t negate the interesting effects a new technology could have on our culture. Another interesting aspect of new technologies is how they seem to roll into culture like waves. The initial excitement wave, and then skepticism brings the tide down while people quietly undertake the difficult job of building real solutions. If the sector does solve real human problems, then useful innovation will come from it and the next waves of that will spread through our culture. Time will show what technology means for us.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Meaningful conversations; collecting random knowledge wherever I can find it. Everything from biohacking to Fintech. I get involved in so many interesting, fast-moving things, you have to stay ahead of the information curve.
Many authors say women can and must strive to have everything – a shining career, blossoming family life, and a perfectly balanced lifestyle all at once, others point out that– then women are placing unrealistic expectations on themselves if they believe they can have it all. You are single with no kids, so according to your experience, what do you think about these statements?
Isn’t it crazy that we’ve created all of these anti-bullying campaigns in schools but we let adults bully each other like this every day? We all have the same amount of time in a day. Spend yours wisely by pursuing your own dreams and goals, with the understanding that time is a limited resource, and everyone needs sleep. And also, people who pressure you with cultural norms are called bullies. What do all good parents say about bullies? Don’t let them get to you.
What are your plans for the future?
I set goals each year and it’s actually time to sit down for 2020. Write your goals, break them down into action items and work backward to decide if you really want and can commit to each step. It’s such a fun exercise and if you do it early, you can get a head start on the year ahead.
"Spend yours wisely by pursuing your own dreams and goals, with the understanding that time is a limited resource, and everyone needs sleep"
What tips, can you give to young girls who want to become an an entrepreneur like you?
I actually wrote this on my 30th birthday. It’s been distributed across the internet, and a professor at my law school even handed out copies to the female students. Here they are:
- You’re going to cry. Don’t pretend like you’re not a woman. Everyone else already knows this. You’ll be fine.
- Make brave choices daily.
- Decide who you are, and what you want to accomplish.
- If anyone tries to influence the above: carry on.
- Begin projects by setting expectations for yourself and others. You can do anything, but you cannot do anything. Take on new tasks with excitement and be honest regarding your skill and time. Say that you cannot do it yet, so it takes time, but only the first time.
- Build your skill set over time through the above. The future is made for generalists.
- Speak your value daily.
- Get comfortable with the fact that you will fail. Expect it.
- When failure happens: learn; forge ahead. And see step 1.
- When you communicate, always speak to the end-user. What do they want to know? The rest doesn’t matter. Skip it.
- Make decisions and communications always from logic. If you have good statistics and financials, you’re probably going to win. We all have feelings and emotions, but the best come prepared.
- If you encounter someone who works illogically, convert your logic to the end user’s an emotional outcome, and communicate that to gain buy-in.
- Don’t allow the emotional state of others to interfere with your brain space. There is much to be done, and the person who accomplishes the most (over the long term) wins. Don’t mess around with politics.
- If you find yourself in an environment with harassment, or even an undertone: leave. You’re not going anywhere there, anyway.
- Find people who don’t care that you’re a woman.
- Do great things. Solve for big, complex unknowns. You can.
- The rest does not take care of itself. Demand it.
- Keep demanding it.
- Never expect it to get easy. Humans love solving problems, otherwise we get bored and create problems for ourselves that we can then pretend to solve. Congratulations — you aren’t bored. You are interesting. Enjoy that.
- Leverage your intellectual advantages, and especially take advantage of the fact that you do not get distracted by the opposite gender. You would be shocked at how much time men waste on this topic.
I think in your position, many people may have the wrong idea of who you are (personally), and what do you (professionally), with this idea in mind, what is being Jessica and what´s not?
I wouldn’t really know about that, as I’ve never been concerned with what other people think. Maybe that’s it: if someone or something isn’t contributing meaningfully to your life, don’t worry about it. The most successful people, by definition, didn’t get there following a heard.
Who is the woman you admire the most and why?
There is one historical female entrepreneur who started in entertainment, creating one of the most-watched shows on television. She then went into tech and created an incredibly successful series of apps, then crossed through apparel and, I believe, cosmetics. Now she is a successful civil rights activist. If you want to see why our culture is broken today, study Kim Kardashian as if you’re living in a future where no one cares about your gender identity. She is very insightful to those smart enough to see the underlying methodology.
"Write your goals, break them down into action items and work backward to decide if you really want and can commit to each step"
Name: Jessica Higgins
Sector:Venture Capital Acceleration, Marketing, Advisory
Company: Research + Innovation
Designation: Managing Partner
Country: The USA
Link to headshot: https://www.jessicahiggins.co/about-jessica
Personal Website: JessicaHiggins.co
Venture Capital Accelerator Website: https://researchinnovation.co/