Jeremy D. Rackley is a New Yorker through and through. He was born in Brooklyn, New York, and attended the elite Brooklyn Technical High School. It was there that he became interested in technology and engineering, two of the high school’s specialty subjects.
Upon graduating, Jeremy D. Rackley moved north to Ann Arbor, where he attended the University of Michigan, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Design and Applied Arts. After earning his degree, he spent over a decade working as a freelance graphic and UX designer. During this time, Jeremy D. Rackley was able to hone his web design, app design, branding, illustration, and user experience skills. All of this prepared him for his job as a UX/Visual Designer at Google, where he started working in 2008.
While at Google, he defined and shaped digital solutions through user-focused web and mobile application designs. Though he learned so much from his time at Google, he eventually found himself wanting more and that was when he decided to go off on his own.
Currently, Jeremy D. Rackley is the founder and managing partner of his own marketing firm, JC Marketing, located in his hometown of Brooklyn, New York. He manages a small team of designers and developers alongside his long time partner Cinthya Garza Martinez, who is the lead writer for JC Marketing. Jeremy and Cinthya put together a winning team to create custom marketing solutions and quality websites for their clients.
Where did the idea for JC Marketing come from?
I had been working at Google for over a decade when I decided to found JC Marketing. While I am so grateful for the experience, I missed working on a wider range of projects directly with clients, which I had gotten used to as a freelance designer. I realized that rather than simply going back to being a freelancer, it was time to finally do what I had always dreamt of doing, which was to formally start my own marketing firm. There wasn’t really any one moment from which the idea was born, it developed slowly over time, as did my resolve to make it a reality.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I thought life at Google was busy, but running your own company is an entirely different ball game. I am a UX designer through and through, so my typical day involves a lot of coding and helping my team design whatever website or marketing campaign we’re working on. But there are also a lot of meetings involved, with both prospective and current clients. Most days, I’m putting together a pitch or a draft to present to a client. I thrive under pressure, so having a busier (some might even say chaotic) work schedule actually works really well for me. That is what ensures I stay productive.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Getting out in nature really helps me work through problems and come up with new ideas for JC Marketing. Dater Mountain Nature Park is one of my favorite places to go when I need to escape the city. They have tons of trails for all skill levels, many of which boast incredible views. I always feel more focused, refreshed, and inspired after I’ve spent some time outdoors.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I love that tech and design companies have started taking a more holistic approach to technology. I am a huge believer in holism. I believe that we can find the best solution to almost any problem if we just look at it holistically. I apply this to my personal life, but also to my work. I have always promoted a holistic design philosophy that blends experienced design skills, technical comprehension, and a drive to improve the user experience.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I start each day by tackling the most complicated task on my to-do list. In college, I became a bit of a procrastinator, but I knew it was not a habit I could carry with me into the workplace. So as soon as I graduated and started freelancing, I got into the habit of starting my day with the hardest, most complex and time consuming task on my list. It might not be for everyone, but I am at my sharpest early on in the day and completing the hardest task first almost always makes the rest of the day more pleasurable.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t be afraid to start your own business. I spent years agonizing over whether I should start JC Marketing. I was so worried, not only about giving up my job at Google, but that I would fail as an entrepreneur. Of course, it was scary at first, but now I only wish I had left Google sooner. I am so much happier being my own boss and working one on one with clients.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I say this partly in jest, but I firmly believe Brooklyn is a better borough than Manhattan. I love Manhattan, but the more I’ve grown up and seen Brooklyn evolve, the more I’m certain this is the best place to live in all of the United States. You’ve got quieter, residential areas with lots of green space, but you also have some of the best restaurants, coffee shops, and bars out of anywhere in the world. Plus, you can’t beat the view of the Manhattan skyline from Brooklyn!
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Make time for yourself to do what you love outside of work. It is so easy to let your business overrun your life. I have fallen victim to this more times than I can count. But, in the last couple of years, I’ve started being a lot stricter about how I spend my personal time. When I’m not working, I try to be as present as possible and do things that make me happy and relaxed. For me, that means going for a jog each morning with my partner Cinthya and meditating before bed each night.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I made sure to have a talented, hard working team around me who all shared the same goal. I have seen so many start-ups fail, ultimately because they didn’t have the right people. It takes a lot of time to find team members that have the skills and expertise your company needs, but who also fit with your company culture. Luckily, I had an incredible partner, Cinthya Garza Martinez, from the start. From there, we went through a bit of trial and error, but were ultimately able to find our dream team of designers, developers, and writers.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I set a lot of goals for myself when I first became an entrepreneur. I simply didn’t anticipate how long it would take to get my business to where I wanted it to be. I felt like a huge failure in the first six months, because I wasn’t meeting any of the targets I had set for myself. To get out of this hole, I started connecting with other young entrepreneurs to learn more about their experiences and how their first year went. It was from these conversations that I learned to be less hard on myself and to give my business and myself time to grow and adapt to this new role.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think social media marketing firms are such a hot niche right now. Social media is an extremely undervalued aspect of running a business. Depending on your product or service, your social media platforms have the ability to make or break your business. I have a few friends who work in this niche, and business is absolutely booming. Social media is clearly not going anywhere, so starting a company that helps businesses maximize that is huge.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Giving back has always been really important to me, and I wanted to make that a pillar of JC Marketing as well. I recently donated $500 to the Brooklyn COVID-19 Response Fund. They are working so hard to keep this community safe and to help those who have been affected by the pandemic.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Asana and Slack are tools that my team and I use daily. They allow us to communicate effectively, even when we’re not working together in a physical office (as is the case right now). They also help us keep a record of all of our past and ongoing projects, who did what in each project, and who is currently working on what.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Start Before You’re Ready: The Young Entrepreneurs Guide to Extraordinary Success in Work and Life by Mick Spencer is a must-read for any and all entrepreneurs.
What is your favorite quote?
“Always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals.” – Michelle Obama
- Consider taking holistic approach to design
- Take time for yourself
- Tackle the most difficult tasks first