Jessica Higgins has a background in culture design and business development, and is using her experience to help grow purpose-driven brands that could very well disrupt their markets. Jessica is a Chief Marketing Officer and Advisor to a wide portfolio of companies, from innovative real estate business models to blockchain-based businesses. The one thing in common: all of her work must align to her vision of helping others grow.
She is an advocate for women’s leadership, beginning back in 2004 when she became President of the Texas Pay Equity Committee, and has been diligently working since to help empower women and break down cultural barriers to equality. With only 8% of all cryptocurrency participants being women, she definitely stands out in her field.
She is a public speaker on women’s advocacy, blockchain, leadership and how to influence behavior change at scale.
She has been published in over 500 publications, including Thrive Global, USA Weekly, NBC News, Newsweek, and many others. She just released the book: 10 Skills for Effective Business Communication: Practical Strategies from the World’s Greatest Leaders available on Amazon.
MiLLENNiAL caught up with Jessica to learn about her transition into an ICO.
Tell us about your experience leaving an institutional technology space to join an ICO.
I actually left consulting to join an ICO, which felt pretty similar to what I imagine Elon Musk’s first Mars colony will feel like someday. It is a completely different universe. The ICO space speaks a different language, and it moves at lightening speed. It’s an indoctrination by fire, and completely worthwhile. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to be on the forefront of technology, for real.
Discuss what Digits.io is and your experience working with them.
Digits turns any debit or credit card into a cryptocurrency card that you can swipe and use anywhere. It is backed by a new financial instrument, called The Hedge Lending network, that is the first networked-hedge lending system to eliminate volatility in the cryptocurrency market. Ben Way, our CEO, was who brought me onboard. He was one of the first millionaires of the dot-com boom, and built the largest bitcoin mining operation in San Francisco, as well as a host of philanthropic work he does, which is amazing. When he asked me to work with him on this project I didn’t even know what an ICO was, but because it’s him, my immediate answer was “yes, definitely”.
What do you hope to accomplish with this new project?
For every ICO project I work on, the goal is to create real use cases and more widespread adoption. There are so many benefits to people’s adoption, and so many possible risks as well, that as we move through this blockchain revolution together my hope is that our new universe is ethically created together.
Many people believe cryptocurrencies are a scam. How are you hoping to change that idea and the future of this currency?
Well, if the news is telling me the truth then many cryptocurrencies are scams. Ben, our CEO, says that it is no different now than it was in the early days of the Internet. Some really amazing things will come from this space, as will some really awful things. I don’t think we’ll ever collectively stop all bad actors in any market, but I would like to see some smart regulations come into place that can protect people. We are operating as if the space has already been regulated.
You have collaborated with many companies like Microsoft, LinkedIn and AT&T. How has that experience helped you on this new path you have chosen?
Nothing could have prepared me for this new world of cryptocurrencies. And that is really exciting. Once you start to believe that you really understand technology, then blockchain comes in and completely changes the game. With quantum computing, artificial intelligence and blockchain all happening at once, this space is going to keep getting extremely interesting, and extremely complex.
What the best part of your job?
Honestly, our team. We value and trust each other. I wouldn’t trade that for the world. If you find yourself finally part of a culture like that, enjoy it!
Tell us about being named a Breakthrough Female Founder of 2017 by Thrive Global?
When I got that email I thought it was spam. I had to read it at least three times before figuring out they were actually talking about me. I don’t think any accolades truly matter unless you use them to do good. I definitely feel that pressure.
Where can we find you when you are not working?
The only time I’m not working is when I’m asleep or in a pilates class. Work life balance is a struggle when you really love what you do. Help!
Who are some of your influences and/or mentors?
I was profoundly influenced by Joe Polish. He has a mastermind group called Genius Network that will completely change your mindset about marketing. I was grateful to have studied under BJ Fogg, the head of the behavior design lab at Stanford. He taught me the quantified understanding of human behavior and how to change it. I would recommend that to anyone (so long as your aim is to do good with the knowledge). And finally, Seth Godin inspires me every day, although I’ve only actually spoken with him once. I consume his podcasts and blogs as if they are my marketing nutrients.
What is the most important lesson you have learned from working as a culture design expert and marketing communications professional?
I think there’s a time in your mind that you think of these great companies as ethereal beings, and then you learn they are made by, and made up of, people just like you. There is also a time where you idolize these technology startup founders as if they are rock stars, and then you learn that they are also just people like you. I’ve been so grateful to have met so many brilliant people, and to realize that we are all simply humans. This has made it clear to me over time that absolutely anything is possible.
Share some tips for upcoming entrepreneurs who look up to your success.
Learn every single day. Time is your currency, and you should spend it wisely on enriching your mind. If you’re an entrepreneur, you are your own best investment.