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Meet Trailblazer Jillian Livingston

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jillian Livingston.

Jillian, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
They say that one’s life and work experiences can often culminate into one’s final destination, and although I am nowhere near the end, my previous experiences have all brought me to where I am today as a leading influencer in Aspen and the founder and producer of Aspen Real Life and Aspen Connect, a storytelling marketing and connecting agency.

Having majored in Broadcast & Film at Boston University, I moved to NYC and worked for Simon & Schuster as a Publicist and Seventeen Magazine as a Merchandising Editor. In 1990, I moved away from the concrete jungle and followed my older sister to Aspen where I landed a job with Janie Joseland-Bennet working as a photo editor for Photographer’s Aspen. Needing to be more social, I moved on to working as the Special Events and Development Director for DanceAspen and then returned to film as a Production Manager and Real Casting Assistant at Aspen Production Services with the incredible Dede Brinkman. Within the same month of getting my film job in 1995, I fell in love with a Colorado boy of whom I ended up marrying and having three boys with, which led me to stop working so I could stay at home and raise our children.

In 2007, my husband and I built our dream home in Old Snowmass and I created a blog so that I had a place to house my stories, photographs, and videos capturing life raising boys in one of America’s most renowned ski resort towns. Before I knew it, I was being labeled as a “mommy blogger” and getting over 40K monthly hits to my website. I also started getting invited to stay at luxury hotels throughout Colorado with my family, and thus became a travel writer, attending conferences like Blogher and TBEX to get crash courses on learning the trade I had entered into. Then, 2011 happened and I ran out of time to monetize, and so I put the blog on the back burner to make a consistent salary in the hopes that I could help us to stay in our beloved home. And so, I became an Account Manager for a local digital marketing firm, and for three years, I built the social media sites of local and international clients. What I realized though that position was that I had a knack for integrating our clients into online conversations resulting in market integration for their products on a larger scale, but I missed the engagement of my blog and my travel writing, and it struck me that I should return back to my work and incorporate clients into my own stories and drive traffic not to their social media, but rather to their products and services, and so I left my job and returned back to my blog, changing the focus from mommy blogging to a more sophisticated blog about the Aspen lifestyle.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Smooth road? Ha! Absolutely not. Being a 50 + female entrepreneur can be frustrating and lonely, but thankfully we have come to a new era where women are being celebrated, and one thing I know well is how to insert myself into that digital conversation.

Pioneering my way through the blogging world with no capital and three growing boys in tow has been nearly close to impossible, and admittedly I scour the digital world for a new job about every seven months where I can apply my skills for a company that is helping to make the world a better place. A place where I don’t have to hustle and can bring in a reliable and consistent income, rather than making $10K one month and $2K the next. Had there been a blogging school I could have gone to where I could have learned SEO, advertising, marketing, ecommerce, website development, social media growth, and content creation, then perhaps I could have been more laser directed and focused on my path, but learning on the fly, while also creating content and doing my own sales, in addition to the laundry, cooking, and college planning for the boys, not to mention parenting and being there for my husband, has led me quite often feeling like Prometheus fighting the uphill battle.

During the school year, it is definitely easier to stay focused without wrenches being hurled into my rapidly moving spokes, but in the summer, without money to spend on camps and travel for the boys before they are of the age to work, I cannot flow with my work in the way that I would like, and thus I juggle, waking up early to meditate and work in the blissful uninterrupted quiet of the morning, sporting my big white headphones to infiltrate my mind with online courses on blogging and digital media, and veering off into sleep at night with my nose in my computer and my headphones still on.

For young women, I have so much to say.
Believe in yourself. Be strong. Don’t chase shiny objects and be fooled by those who say they can help you. Be discerning and discriminative.

Create a working business plan that you can continuously update, just like traveling, your destination will most likely change, but writing it down will help you to sort out the outline of which to follow to get the work done, and envision what the ultimate goal and plan is. One thing I know for certain is that if you can’t see what’s ahead, you will not be able to manifest it.

Seek advice from everyone you admire, ask them important lessons that they have learned. Respect those who have the wisdom and are all-knowing, and be sure to thank them for their time. However, don’t let the energy of others change your path. Take in the information you need to help guide you, and discard the rest.

Help others where you can, but just as you would put your oxygen mask on first so as to better help others, serve yourself first. Give back when you can.

Get out of your own way, and be present, paying attention to how you may be blocking your own success.
Meditate, as much as you can to stay clear in your path and focused. Don’t give airtime to the negative disruptive thoughts that will always creep in if you let them. Try to be as laser-focused as you can be.

Follow every lead that comes your way, and keep a spreadsheet of contacts with notes on each interaction. Act on your ideas, or at least write them down in a working document so nothing slips through the cracks, where you may not be ready at the moment to follow through with that idea, the time may come in the future to act upon it.
If your work is feeling too forced, step back and live more in the flow – choosing the paths that open before you, rather than macheting your way through.

Diligently persevere, and work your ass off, but also take the time you need to nurture mind, body & soul.
And most importantly, stay healthy. Don’t sabotage your efforts, and don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.

Please tell us more about what you do, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I am a storytelling marketer, content creator, writer, blogger, public speaker, influencer, interviewer, podcaster, and a radio show host. I also produce networking events where I put together panels that incite inspirational and informational conversations, uniting the business owners of communities closer together.

I have been told by many that I specialize in connecting and elevating people, bringing a renewed refreshing positive and hopeful energy to businesses. As a visionary, I recognize when I need to step in to produce something needed within our community and take enormous pleasure in meeting the businesses of our valley and helping them to get their messages out in an engaging story format.

At every event I produce, I feel proud. Proud that the energy in the room is everything I always expect it to be; soulful, positive and inspiring. Proud that I have platforms large enough where I am able to share voices and drive a targeted audience to the products and services of my clients, helping them to continue on and remain true to their work. Proud that I have realized the art of manifestation. Proud that I am so passionate about my work. Proud that my community work helps teens and their parents. Proud that I can amplify messages and know that they are being heard.

What sets me apart from others is that I started this with my boots on the ground on a grassroots level, with a soul interest to share stories. The advertising and networking events were a natural progression of my growth. I am playing my own game, paving my own way with little help from others, which connects me more deeply with my community. I have never found a site like mine that is solely about life travel and our locals. I’m not in competition with anyone, in fact, I am consistently reaching out to collaborate with others, and do my best to embrace all who come my way. I am a forward thinker, always educating myself on the next best way to create engaging content that better connects people together.

Do you feel like there was something about the experiences you had growing up that played an outsized role in setting you up for success later in life?
I love your thought-provoking questions. Yes, most definitely. My experiences have all culminated into who I am today. Growing up with two older sisters whose pack of friends always surrounded me showering me with affection, led me to appreciate and crave that desire to connect with others. As a family, our British mother and sporty father took their three girls on adventurous summer travels, nurturing my love for travel. And then, my history of amazing creative jobs in publishing, film and event production, shaped me, but it was the jobs with Simon & Schuster in NYC, and in film production with Dede Brinkman in Aspen, that molded me, showing me that I can do anything I apply myself to.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
My bio picture: Michèle Cardamone

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