BABE #171: JO FRANCO, YouTuber and Blogger, Damon and Jo
Jo is a YouTuber, blogger, and all-around entrepreneur with a travelin' heart, a business savvy brain and a creative soul. Together with her BFF-turned-business partner, Damon, she runs popular travel YouTube channel, Damon and Jo, and inclusive and educational travel blog, Shut Up and Go. Hustlin' from planes, trains and anywhere she can find Wifi, Jo is a self-made, multilingual, LA-based babe who has created the life of her dreams, encourages her community to do the same, and runs on one hell of a schedule.
Hometown: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil—but then I grew up in Bethel, Connecticut. So random, I know.
Current city: Los Angeles, California
Alma mater: Pace University, NYC
Degree: International Management
Very first job: Besides cleaning houses with my mom as a kid, I was a translator for Brazilian patients at a chiropractor's office.
Hustle(s): YouTuber and Blogger, Damon and Jo + Shut up and Go
Babe you admire and why?
I really admire all of my women creator friends out there, especially the ones who have to keep their smiles on despite low ad rates and sudden changes to the YouTube platform. Believe it or not, all of us are self-made, and while we may look like these fun, bubbly people, we’re fully aware that we’re responsible for our income at the end of the day.
How do you spend your free time?
I’m usually watching something on Netflix in Italian or reading a book in a foreign language. I love a good gym session, and anything that gets me outside to see or experience something I’ve never done before immediately becomes my new favorite thing.
Go-to power anthem?
All of Cardi B’s new album.
What’s something most don't know about you?
I was an undocumented immigrant for 12 years of my life.
What is something you want to learn or master?
Would love to learn American Sign Language. That and how to invest my money. Financial literacy is something that an immigrant girl just doesn’t get exposed to at a young age.
Tell us about your hustle.
As a content creator and entrepreneur, my job is everything, all the time. A lot of the job is reading emails, discussing brand deals, creating content; anything from an Instagram post on one of the three accounts to editing a full-blown video. I’m more of the business lead, so I’ll go back and forth with product development plans and work with our blog manager to make sure we’re good on contributed posts. It’s really a crazy job that never gets old because nothing is ever the same.
What does your typical workday look like?
Airports have become a very frequent thing. I’ll take planes sometimes multiple times a week, and my “office” is seat 23B for that day. I edit hours of footage and cut it down to five to eight minutes of dynamic and funny content in one of our three languages we speak weekly: Portuguese, French or English. I’ll speak to my managers who are always hustling to make sure brand deals and other gigs are coming in, and I have to decide what’s aligned with the big picture for my company, Shut Up and Go.
What inspired you to start your YouTube channel?
My best friend Damon Dominique and I knew there was a huge perspective missing from travel—no one had ever talked about young, fun, spunky, diverse and multilingual travelers. While sexy beaches are always fun to watch, there’s no human connection to something that just looks good. We show all sides of travel and, overall, how to live your best life as people who are completely self-made. The progression has been enormous. Until today, it’s hard to believe we created such a strong and loyal community. Almost everyone we meet—be it in airports, in the middle of a walking tour or in our own home towns—could easily be good friends of ours, because if they love our channel, odds are we love the same things: traveling, having a great time and laughing when things go wrong.
How did you and Damon get connected?
We’ve become family at this point. Our trust in each others’ strengths is what has gotten us so far. When it comes to how we became friends—we met on a facebook group for incoming freshman students of our university. We both always wanted more out of life, and with my business brain and his creative eye, we’ve been able to create a full-time career out of our passions. We clash in the best ways. If we disagree, it’s because there’s a better way to do whatever we’re trying to accomplish. We won’t stop until we’re both happy.
What does your creative process look like?
The process for making videos is never the same. Sometimes we write a script, which involves us laughing nonstop until we have the bones of a skit video. Other times it’s us climbing, hiking, biking, swimming, dancing, singing, cracking jokes, speaking different languages for an entire day with a camera in our hand. We mold those videos in the edit process. With three videos a week, we still spend about eight hours editing each video. Then comes the promotion on all social networks, and by the time you’re done with everything, it’s another night-before-a-video-day.
How long have you been incorporating other languages into your videos?
We’ve been making language videos for about four or five years. We’ve always been inspired by what we would naturally want to do if no one was making us do things. To us, that meant practicing and learning new languages. I had learned English as a 6-year-old after moving from Brazil. I then realized I wouldn’t be fully Brazilian or fully American, so I decided to learn as many languages as possible. I learned French in middle school, and in high school I convinced the school system to let me learn Italian alongside my French studies. By college, I knew my life had to be multilingual. Damon felt the exact same way, and together we started taking Spanish classes as our first brand deal. We’ve been laughing in at least four different languages a week for years now.
How do you maintain your mental and physical health while traveling for work so often?
Funny you should ask that; I just downed two ginger shots because my body gives out every once in a while and I usually don’t have an option to 'turn off.' I work out a lot, because if I’m asking my body to do all this heavy traveling, heavy lifting and less-than-pristine sleep, I should at least give it some TLC as frequently as possible. Eating as many fruits and veggies as possible on the road also helps, and vitamins are key. I haven’t turned off in a while, but it’s because my whole life is basically a blend of work and pleasure.
How do you choose which cities to visit?
Sometimes I look at the map and pick a place I’ve never been. Sometimes it’s because I want to learn a new language. Sometimes I get invited to go by a brand. Sometimes it’s to see family. Sometimes I find a cheap ticket. Regardless, I’m always shutting up and going. Some of my favorite places in the world are Iceland, Italy, the South of France, Mexico, Brazil, Cuba and Kenya—but really, there are so many places I’ve not yet seen that will become my favorites.
How have your past internships, education and work experiences prepared you for the work you do today?
My degree definitely didn’t help with what I do, and the debt made it even harder. But, my internships helped a lot. I interned everywhere, from a marketing agency, to a PR firm, as a video editor, to being the person creating pitch decks. It all gave me skills I use until today.
What’s been your biggest career milestone?
Being able to work for ourselves and not have to clock-in for anyone else was probably one of the happiest realizations of my life. The fact that we were able to literally create something that paid our bills. Looking around my own apartment and realizing every single thing in there was bought by money I created out of nothing is massive. It pushes me to keep going.
How has your gender and/or ethnicity affected your professional experience?
It’s been so interesting to see how much of a need there is for more women who look like me traveling the world. I’ve come from a background where we didn’t take family vacations; we couldn’t even leave the country. The fact that my life involves getting on international flights surprises me, even to this day. I never let my gender or ethnicity define me, but you’d better believe I’m carrying my story wherever I go. Now, I get emails, DMs and comments from young girls who needed to see someone like them succeeding. That is a massive motivator to keep showing them we are limitless.
What are some of the everyday struggles with your role we might not see?
Being a traveling creator involves so much more pain than people would imagine. The horrendous wifi, the mosquito bites—it’s all not conducive to running a business, which is why we usually spend months back in Los Angeles or New York City to handle what we need to do to make sure our overall business grows.
Who are some women in your field you look to for inspiration?
I respect Liza Koshy so much for her talent and hustle, Cammie Scott for her business savviness and Lilly Singh for having created something bigger than just a YouTube channel.
What motivates and inspires you?
The young girls who need role models who look like them, that they’ve never seen before. Success to me is giving not only myself, but others the opportunity to earn a living doing what they absolutely love. Sitting at a desk rotting away isn’t living. And if my company can grow to a point where more people can work doing something they love, I’ll feel successful.
What helps you wind down and manage stress?
Writing with good ol’ pen and paper is my way of rebalancing myself. I need to take that moment, with incense, good jazz music and maybe a glass of wine (or three) to remember that it’s all simple at the end of the day. It’s all about doing what you love.
What are some notable experiences you’ve had on the job?
The entire channel is a funny, embarrassing and intense moment. There’s a Portuguese video where we’re making a traditionally Brazilian bean soup called feijoada, and all of a sudden as we’re doing a victory dance, Damon’s flip-flop flies off his foot and lands in the pot of beans. It was probably one of the best moments I’ve ever lived.
What’s next for you?
Getting back to Los Angeles and sleeping in my own bed for the first time in four months.
Career and/or life advice for other babes?
Know and be comfortable with the fact that it’s always ebbing and flowing. You’ll have great weeks, you’ll have crappy ones, but as long as you’re planting the seeds in the crappy week, you’ll fertilize a beautiful garden of opportunity in the weeks to come.
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