Joel Valle is Small Coffee’s biggest cheerleader. I tell him that all the time. He was at Small Coffee’s launch with a book he thought I’d like, he was one of the few guys I knew who saw me talk at BossBabes ATX’s WORK conference—and now that he’s launched his company, Trust Visuals, he repackaged a video he shot about me and Small Coffee over two years ago and added it to his portfolio. In celebration of his new business, I’m turning the spotlight on Joel. Here’s what I wrote verbatim in a recent email to him:
Joel, we both originally met at a networking event for people in tech and PR, and I have to say that you were a master networker because you connected with me on social media, followed up about having a one-on-one coffee, and you even brought me a list of resources that you'd think I'd find valuable. That really stuck with me, as well as the fact that you've always kept in touch. Where did you learn to build your network? Tell me about the value you've gained from having these cafecitos and how it’s made an impact on your professional career.
I invest a lot of time and money in self-development and that has taught me all I know about networking. The earliest memory that have of… actually learning about networking was in high school when I got a copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People. Another strong influence was the works of Rammit Sethi. That’s when I really learned how to break it down systematically. However, I must emphasize that you really have to care about people and you should not expect anything in return. If I want to make time for coffee with another person is because that person caught my attention with their personality, and if I follow up multiple times after a first meeting it would be because I really like them as a person and I would hang out with them even if we did not talk about business. The value I have gained with these cafecitos is actually invaluable. I have made lifelong friends and I have attracted many clients organically.
You just started a new company, Trust Visuals. What does your company do, how did it get started and what's your mission?
I had many twists and turns throughout my career and some of those roads lead to dead ends. Most of that was because it took me some time to get over my fear of being an artist. Before I started Trust Visuals, I was working for bio-tech companies and I was paid well. Having a degree in Quality Control allowed me to work with top tech companies and I made a “decent living.” But my heart has always been in telling stories visually. For the longest time, I was trying to find a way to make that career shift.
What has your journey looked like and what advice do you have for people wanting to make a career shift?
It finally came altogether by focusing and not deviating on my self-development. I follow a lot of people and all of them have had an influence on me. If I had to give a special thanks, it would be to Chase Jarvis and Gary Vaynerchuck. Both of them said in different videos that you have to build a portfolio of around 10 clients for free before seeing results and for 2017 I laser focused on that aspect. I saw that I needed to position myself differently from other videographers, and I choose a particular niche: working only with consultants. For a year I did that for free, trying to build the best portfolio I could while racking up testimonials. There is a particular book called Pivot by Jenny Blake that breaks down the process of changing careers really well, and it describes the path I took for making this change happen. Other honorable mentions are Seth Godin, Tim Ferris, Jordan Harbinger and Casey Neistat.
The one thing I know about you is you spend a lot of personal time on professional development, reading books and blogs and listening to podcasts, etc. Who have been the biggest inspirations to you when it comes to manifesting your career to where you are now?
My biggest inspirations for manifesting my career are my friends working in film. Just listening to them talk about what projects they are working own fills me with excitement and pushes me to level up my game and to find ways to make things work. People are always looking for that one thing that will move the needle, but the more I network and learn from all these successful people the more I realize there is no such thing. There is only action that needs to be taken and learning from what happens after that action has been taken.
What are you working on now?
Right now, I am fully concentrated on scaling building my brand.
And what do you like to do when you're not working?
Lately, the lines between fun and work are very blurred. I try to make a passionate art project from time to time. I work with models either on photo-shoots, or I make videos that are nostalgic and fun. That means that even in my downtime I am still editing. If I am not working, I’m reading a book in self-development. Having said all that, I try to watch clips of Penn and Teller Fool Us and the occasional Netflix show.
What are some of your favorite places to hang out in Austin?
I spend a lot of time on Sundays at the Spider House with Austin Humanist Community. Even though the group has evolved, it still focuses on what unites us as human rather than what divides us. The foundations of the group are secular. I am very proud of the fact that they are trying to build a community that is inclusive, respecting all individuals no matter what their religious or political beliefs are, and have healthy conversations with respect to individualism. I actively help in any way I can to maintain that vision.
And the Alamo Drafthouse because of you know... movies!