Sometimes the best plan is the one you didn’t think up.

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Iquo B. Essien, Creator of Crowdfund Your Dream (Photo: Stephen Kang for Shoott)

What a difference a year makes. On Christmas Day 2019, I was in Nigeria with family. I know, you’re thinking: sunlight, fresh air, fresh coconut, and music by the beach, right? Well I did get to the beach twice, but I must confess that I spent way too much time in client meetings on Zoom.

Between delivering client reports, a December newsletter, and content plan for the coming year, I was burned out, resentful, and full of regret come 2020, having neglected spending time with family I hadn’t seen in years.

I returned to NYC, in February 2020, wondering why I’d worried so much about pleasing a client who didn’t seem to appreciate the sacrifice—or the vagaries of my pay-to-play wifi situation abroad. (He complained about not being able to reach me, at times when I literally had no network. In all cases, it was totally beyond my control and there was no help desk to call. Early on, I realized he couldn’t comprehend that and stopped trying to explain.) …

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Marya Jan: Consultant and Ad Strategist? Or small business scammer?

It’s been awhile since I’ve written on Medium, and unfortunately it’s another bad review that’s drawn me out of pandemic hibernation. Very rarely have I written company reviews on the web, and this is the second such review I’m writing on Medium. My experience has been so bad that I simply could not let the moment pass without bringing it to public attention. I will try to keep it brief.

I am in the midst of revamping my online business and considering a new marketing funnel to advertise my services. If you’re like me, you might find yourself Googling all sorts of things. And when you find yourself on Facebook, like magic, timely ads start popping up in your newsfeed. …

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Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

On February 2nd, when I returned from a 6-week trip to visit family in Nigeria, the novel coronavirus was already ravaging China.

At JFK, the officers at the international terminal wore gloves and cheap surgical masks as they herded hundreds of passengers through a winding path to customs. The officers closest to me — two Caribbean women in their mid-to-late forties — wore their masks half covering their mouths, so they could chat easily with each other. Watching them, I chuckled, wondering why they bothered with the masks at all if they didn’t wear them properly. …

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At the home of my late grandmother (pictured in photo) in Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria

What’s the one thing that, if you achieve it, would totally transform your life in 2020?

Take a minute and think about it. Close your eyes and imagine what it would feel like, all the ways it would shift your daily experience. Jot it down, if you like. We’ll get back to it.

Two weeks into 2020, I was already over this year and ready for 2021.

A lot of it had to do with the fact that I was still trying to wrap up 2019 projects and commitments that had bled into the new year. No matter how much I’d accomplished, the amount of workshops I’d given, pitch decks completed, and client deliverables turned in, the universe still wanted more. …

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I’ve been writing reviews for years. Mostly, they’ve been film reviews, as I’m a writer and filmmaker. Very rarely have I written company reviews on Yelp, although I can vouch that a well-timed tweet is helpful to grab an errant company’s attention.

Well today I have the distinct pleasure of reviewing PopSocial, an Instagram growth service. I had started an online business which, in addition to my film company and consulting work, required new social media pages. To avoid pulling my hair out over how I would scale and grow the pages, I decided to try PopSocial.

The service came highly recommended by Danielle Leslie, a Silicon Valley startup founder who offers a discount code to students in her Course From Scratch program. (She personally vouched for the service, although it’s worth noting she likely makes affiliate income off her referrals, which raises questions of a financial incentive.) …

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Counting coins to fund your project? Maybe you should try crowdfunding.

Hi, there. Are you thinking about launching a crowdfunding campaign for your project?

You’ve been thinking about it for years, quietly clicking on all your friends’ and colleagues’ campaign pages, giving a few dollars here or there, or secretly watching their success or demise, filing it away for later.

You’re waiting for the perfect time to launch, when you’re feeling the most confident, have the perfect project, the perfect fallback position if it doesn’t work, and a hype crew to egg you on.

Still waiting? Ok. That’s an approach.

But what’s really stopping you from launching your campaign this year?

If I’m the first person to ask, hear me out as opposed to all the other people who put bad thoughts in your head about it ending in colossal failure, leaving you to flee from public view with your tail between your legs.

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Making a living in NYC is a constant hustle.

A while ago, I wrote an essay about my experience making a living as a creative in New York City. The response was so overwhelming that I created a survey, posted it on LinkedIn and Facebook, and received responses from more than 100 artists and creatives.

The majority of respondents were 25- to 44-years-old (86%), female identified (at 70%, compared to 25% male, 2% gender nonconforming, and 1% transgender male), and BA/BFA holders (at 46%, compared to 17% MFA holders, 43% self taught, and 10% apprenticeship learners).

Respondents worked as freelancers or teaching artists, or had odd jobs ranging from real estate to housekeeping and retail, while others were unemployed. This wasn’t too surprising, given results from the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project — which surveyed careers of 92K+ art school grads from institutions such as Tisch, Columbia, and UCLA — that found 75% of art school grads continue to practice work separate from their art, and 32% have never been professional artists due to higher pay and steadier income in other fields. …

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Pulling your hair out at work? A new study shows you’re not alone.

Sometimes I feel like I could write a book about the drama of working while black and female in the world. If you add to that the fact I also write and make films, and am Nigerian-American, then I could write the unabridged encyclopedia and atlas.

Life imitated art when I worked at a consulting firm, a little while ago, helping a client scale up on equity internally. Most organizations seem (claim?) …

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A great idea + a crowd = money! :-)

With a biology degree from Stanford University, I got my first real job at a global health communications firm that represented clients such as the CDC, NIH, and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Global Health Program.

It was exciting for awhile, raising awareness of critical health issues like maternal health, child mortality, cancer, and HIV/AIDS prevention. I designed presentations and wrote media briefs summarizing news of all the great things our clients, global thought leaders, were doing. It was an entry-level position, but I was guaranteed to move up as long as I was quick and efficient, which I was.

But I got bored. …

Three to 10 years isn’t nearly long enough, but maybe it will bring his 60 accusers some peace.

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Bill Cosby leaving the courthouse

Bill Cosby was sentenced Tuesday to three to 10 years in a state prison for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home 14 years ago. Judge Steven O’Neill ruled that Cosby will be classified as a “sexually violent predator,” a determination that requires lifetime registration, mandatory sex offender counseling, and notification to the community. As part of the sentence, he was also fined $25,000 plus the costs of prosecution.

After the sentence was handed down, Cosby was escorted from the courthouse in handcuffs and booked into Montgomery County Correctional Facility. For many, it was the final fall for a man once known as “America’s Dad,” who built a number-one rated sitcom off a successful stand-up and film career. …


Iquo B. Essien

Writer, creator, and consultant to artists and entrepreneurs. NYU Film & Stanford alumna. Let’s chat:

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