We had the good fortune of connecting with Jonny Zeller and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jonny, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Most of us have had an idea for a new business that we think could be “huge”. That feels like the easy part. Actually starting the company, sustaining it, and growing it is an incredibly difficult endeavor. I think the desire to build something special is rooted inside of a person. Entrepreneurship is a state of mind. I believe it can be learned, but there’s still a special spirit needed inside of you to start with. I couldn’t start my own business and that went beyond simply wanting to be my own boss. I had a strong vision for what I wanted to create and I felt there was an opportunity to do something unique. I ask myself anytime I get an idea for a new venture: “Do people actually need the product/service I’m providing and is there really a gap in the market that could be filled?” “Disruptive” is a pretty common buzzword these days, but there’s absolutely merit in finding a way to re-engineer an antiquated industry or service.
I think it’s important to build a team of smarter people around you and utilize the “Fail Fast” mentality. If you’re the smartest person at one part of the business, then partner with someone who is smarter in an area where you are a bit weaker. We all need a team and when your peers succeed, you succeed – there is always enough room for smart people and good ideas to get ahead in this world. It’s way too difficult to do it alone. “Failing Fast” allows you to weed out bad ideas or practices quickly so you don’t waste too much time or money chasing something that isn’t going to work. I think it’s important to not be too precious about an idea and move on to the next one. If you can have one good idea, then you can have more.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
As a Director, I get to tell stories of all shapes and sizes. The backbone of my creative inspiration is rooted in 360/immersive storytelling as a way to create a new style of content that engages audiences in a more robust “story world.” This goes far beyond having extra deliverables for social platforms. It’s about creating a journey that the viewer chooses to go on. One that migrates them across platforms. I’m very passionate about this type of storytelling because it can be applied to all forms of content from branded campaigns to narrative feature films. Currently I’m working on adapting my award-winning short film SCARS into a series of books and a feature film. SCARS is a short film based on a viral response to a reddit.com writing prompt. The film takes place in an alternate world where everyone receives a scar on their body when they tell a lie. Big lie, big scar. On the surface, SCARS is about a young cadet learning that there are two sides to every story. However, the real story goes much deeper in discussing the value of truth, honesty, and how people judge one another based on their physical appearance.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m pretty fortunate to get to travel extensively for my job. One of my favorite ways to experience a new city and culture is through the food. My favorite kinds of restaurants are off the beaten path because they offer the most authentic experience. Luckily LA offers plenty of options that fit this description. Near the top of the list would be Koreatown for KBBQ. LA has the largest population of Koreans outside of Korea itself and it’s turned this part of the city into a mecca for anyone craving some do-it-yourself bbq. There are so many cool shops and bars to explore, too. It’s definitely one of my favorite parts of the city. There’s no shortage of good street tacos in LA either, so at some point we’d head east to Leo’s Taco Truck on Sunset in Little Armenia and then grab dinner at my absolute favorite – a sushi speakeasy called Sushi|Bar. (And we’d probably have to take a Lyft because their craft cocktails are insane.) No LA trip is complete without a cheeseburger, so I would also make sure to grab a For The Win smash burger. It blows In-N-Out out of the water and you don’t have to sit through a long drive-thru line. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
As a kid, my father set up a special type of allowance system. He assigned a monetary value to various books based on their length and difficulty. If I read the book and could give a comprehensive book report, then I would get the money. It had two benefits; I was reading business books meant for working professionals when I was 14 and it provided for some quality father-son time while discussing the themes during my “book reports.” This practice, and the knowledge I learned over years of reading, has helped me approach my career in a completely different style and I am eternally thankful to my father for constantly pushing me to be smarter and better every day. I’d also like to give a shout out to The Creative Coalition, the team at Guild26, and all of the amazing crew I’ve worked with over the years who have helped realize my creative vision.
Film page: https://guild26.com/
The Creative Noodles