Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I became a social media consultant back in 2013. It all started when the company I used to work for, as a sales manager, went out of business. I was devastated and in the financial aspect, I was drowning. I remember that same day that I got the bad news I was on my iPhone, just browsing through it, thinking about my future and how my life was about to change. Pretty much preparing myself to return the new Honda Accord I had just gotten and said good-bye to my dream of finally buying a house. When I got a message from my little brother on WhatsApp. He said, “Hey how come you are still not on Instagram?”. Honestly, the last thing I could care about was some new social media platform, but I was so bored and stressed that I went ahead and created an account. I chose JoecolmenaresV as my username, as most people at work called me Joe instead of Jose. I can say it was love at first sight. I remember checking hashtags to find the funniest memes I had ever seen. I literally spent hours and hours just laughing and taking screenshots of everything I found funny. That night I came across the funniest account of all, the name was Queboleta, a Colombian memes account that at that time already had a little over 100,000 followers which were impressive, considering Instagram was still a new platform and most “big” accounts were far from those numbers. I was amazed by the quality of the content and the engagement it was getting. That’s exactly when I realized this is what I wanted to do: Grow Instagram accounts with funny videos and memes in order to eventually promote different products and services. I was not even sure what it was that I was going to sell, I just knew I would go for it. A few months later I already had two well-known meme accounts that I had grown myself with the help of Eduardo, the owner of Queboleta. I had tried to approach him many different ways which were hard since there were no direct messages at the moment, but one day I did. One thing led to another and we became partners. I named my two accounts Quejeso and Quebolas. This is how I ended up being a social media consultant after working as a sales manager for a carpet cleaning equipment distributor. I thank God every day this happened, I could not imagine my life without Colmenares Digital Corp, which is the name of my social media consulting firm.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started doing this?
Having built what some people referred to as an “Instagram Empire” by the year 2015, I had made good connections. Famous people would try to get a hold of me to help them promote their newly created IG accounts. One night I ended up being invited to the birthday party of the famous Puerto Rican singer Nicky Jam. I was new to this whole thing of hanging out with famous people and at first, I felt awkward at this party in a night club in Medellin, however after meeting Nicky and shaking hands I realized he was just a regular guy, like everyone else. Interestingly enough Nicky himself told me he was a big fan of my accounts and that he actually followed both of them. I felt really happy that someone like him would even know my accounts. We spent the evening chatting, and the center of our conversation was about him asking for advice on how to grow his social media followers more efficiently. This was an evening I will never forget. I have not talked to Nicky ever again after that night but it was truly very interesting.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Building a social media presence for any business takes a lot of time and effort. Things don’t really happen overnight. Being creative and always trying new things and techniques will make you different. I encourage all new consultants to watch all the videos on Youtube that they can, even pay for some tutorials and classes on sites like Udemy, this will help you gather ideas that eventually can be turned into unique approaches to offer services that will distinguish you. You are likely to fail several times until it happens. You can see it like this, each failure means you are one step closer to success.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Yes, his name is Eduardo Florez, whom I mentioned earlier, he believed in me from the beginning and saw my potential to even make me his partner. For a variety of reasons we parted ways but we are still close friends and are in constant communication. He now owns the famous memes account Moriderisa with more than 6.5 million followers.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
In the year 2014, I joined a few friends with the idea of creating an Instagram account that would show the world what was really happening in Venezuela, even help Venezuelans abroad and in the country understand the situation. It was a very helpful account in this regard, considering the censorship we have over there, where the media channels that speak the truth are shut down the next day. We opened this account named VenezuelaLucha to keep the World informed and at the same time help those in need. We were in contact with several charities that fed the poor, which sadly represent the majority of Venezuela’s population. Helping this non-for-profit organization and all the people that to this date still benefit from them, is by far the most gratifying feeling one can have as a social media influencer. In the year 2017, VenezuelaLucha already had millions of followers and I was covering myself the protests in Caracas, every day for 8 months, doing all I could to keep people informed, until one day I was threatened by one of the “leaders” of the dictatorship in Venezuela. I would either leave the country or be imprisoned. I really had no choice. With my luggage full of memories and nostalgia, I had to board a plane and leave everything behind.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?
I have learned that everything in life is temporary. Good things and bad things can come and go. If you think about it, everything really IS temporary. Point being, when you are struggling, never give up, and understand that maybe your time just hasn’t come yet. The storm will pass and you will see clearer after the rain is gone. It might sound cliche but it is a fact, at least it is for me, and for many people I know. On the other hand, if you are doing great and things just could not be better, always remember who you are, be proud of whom you have become but always with your feet on the ground. Never look at anyone over your shoulder, one day you may need something from this person. Be certain that if you have been kind to people when you are the top, they will help you when you are at the bottom.
Being born in a middle-class family that taught me great values and do not discriminate, I learned that we are all equal in a way that we all deserve respect, regardless of your financial status, your skin color, race, or religion. We all deserve to have the same rights and most importantly, everyone deserves an opportunity. I could not be prouder of my mom Carmen Velasco and my dad Jose Colmenares (yep, I am really Jose Colmenares Jr). Despite all the obstacles they had in their lives raising me and my brothers, they always made sure we were fed, provided the best education possible, and always guided us in the right direction. If I feel lucky about one thing, that thing is having the family I have, that have always been there for me.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
On Instagram: instagram.com/joecolmenaresv and Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/joecolmenaresv