We are a Chef and Psychologist who now work full-time as social media influencers and Instagram growth mentors. AMA

Javier Garcia
Aug 10, 2018

I'm Javier, a chef who has been in the food industry for 22 years. My wife Briana is a psychologist who has worked with children on the spectrum her whole career. 1 1/2 years ago, we packed up our lives and left the U.S. for a new life in Italy. In the last year, we began working as content creators and now mentor other users to achieve the same. These have become our main sources of income and have granted us the freedom to work from anywhere. All our social media accounts can be found here.

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How has traveling expanded your palate with food flavors? What have you discovered as your favorites now?
Aug 12, 8:07AM EDT0

Travel has made a much bigger advocate of eating just what is grown in the local area. In Los Angeles, I grew up with the ability to eat any fruit or vegetable all year long. In the last few years, LA has had the trend of "eating seasonally" or "farm to table".

In our travels, I have found so many countries that have been eating this way forever. Where we currently live in Italy, all of our food is raised or grown within a few kilometers of us. The freshness and lack of preservatives makes for the most amazing flavors.

My favorites, more often than not, are the local "holes in the wall" that you find locals enjoying their meals.

Aug 13, 4:05AM EDT0
Which social media platforms should our restaurant business choose to use for marketing and customer communications?
Aug 11, 9:34PM EDT0

Facebook is always a powerful resourse because it has such a large user base but I am a big instagram advocate. More and more people are influenced by visuals. When I am choosing a new place to eat, pictures of the food sway me more than reviews. The main reason is that taste is subjective so i may not agree with a review but a picture of a beautiful plate will get me to try for myself.

Aug 12, 5:10AM EDT0
What skills does one need for you to mentor him or her effectively?
Aug 11, 1:22PM EDT0

The only things required are a computer, wifi and a motivated personality.

I always emphasize that all the knowledge in the world is useless unless you apply it. I can not do the work for the people I work with for them. I provide everything you need to be successful but its up to you to implement it.

If you are a "go getter" and have reliable internet service, you can be do what we do. I have only turned down clients if I had a full schedule or if they didn't seem motivated.

Aug 12, 5:06AM EDT0

How do you manage to let the digital world not 'overtake' your lives? 

Aug 11, 1:17PM EDT0

When I have sponsorships such as travel, hotel stays or tours, I take all the photos or video required first thing. I try to get the work mostly finished so I can actually enjoy myself. 

Being organized is key to not letting yourself get overwhelmed by the work. I have also begun to limit the amount of people I will mentor at once. It's difficult to turn down business opportunities but you have to set limits, otherwise you are just caught in a different kind of rat race.

Aug 12, 5:01AM EDT0
What is a day in your lives like especially when it comes to managing all your social media accounts including writing blogs?
Aug 11, 5:20AM EDT0

Every day is slightly different. The clients I mentor are in Australia, the U.K, east and west coast U.S and India. The numerious differnet time zones requires careful planning. I plan my week by establishes that I will set 3-4 days aside exclusively for metoring calls. I leave my schedule open to work on social media, for about 45 mins everyday, at peak times. 

I try to focus on blog post and creating videos on the off days.  I leave a little flexibily during the week for things that may pop up but I prepare a much more definitive schedule when I'm traveling so that I can also enjoy my travel and still get work done.

I probably put in a 30-40 hour work week but I can do it in the comfort of my own home while wearing my pj's or on a beach. As long as I have wifi, I'm good to go.

Aug 12, 4:53AM EDT0
What’s most important to you when pursuing brand partnerships?
Aug 10, 7:47PM EDT0

The most important aspect for me when pursuing a new brand partnership is if they offer a quality product or service. If you start promoting businesses that are not quality, you will lose the trust of your audience. As an influencer, the trust you establish with your followers will make or break you.

Aug 12, 4:43AM EDT0
How did you become experts about Instagram? Where did you learn the basics, the strategies? How long did it take you to learn the ropes?
Aug 10, 6:45PM EDT0

There were multiple sources that helped us learn the "ins and outs" of instagram. Some were trial and error. We also purchased some lesson pods and exchanged ideas with other aspiring influences. There was not just one source that made it all work. We analyized numerous approaches and techniques to come up with the most streamlined process that is our 6 week course.

It took about 8 months of very hard work to develop the tools for our program. Luckily for our clients, our approach has helped them achieve the same in a matter of weeks. 

We are also constanly researching and updating our methods to be as efficient as possible. Our program is designed to not be affected by the ever changing instagram algorythm, but we do like to stay up to date for any new tools that will give our clients the edge over the countless other influencers.

Aug 12, 4:35AM EDT0

Hi Javier

I love your story! And I love Italy. Talk about creative mecca! I just launched my first product, CRIA--All Natural Hair and Scalp Booster. We are looking to increase our visibility as this is tantamount to helping, people who know the pain of hair loss as well as of recreating it with products that do not honor the body. What would your advice be for a start up like ours regarding visibility? Thanks! Shubhra www.criahair.com

Aug 10, 2:07PM EDT0

I would suggest thinking about working with influencers to help spread awareness. Facebook is a good resource to connect with influencers who are looking to promote.

Be clear about the audience you are trying to reach to ensure that you partner with the right influencer. Someone with a foodie page for example won't be much help. A influencer who is involved in the health/ wellness niche or cosmetics niche would be helpful.

A free sample for an endorsemnet is typical. Be clear about what you want from them and the timeline you would want them to promote. Also having an influencer host a giveaway will reach a large audience. Entry to the contest can always be them signing up for your news letter or following your social media.

Aug 12, 4:27AM EDT0
Why did you choose to use different social media platforms to share your experiences?
Aug 10, 10:06AM EDT1

The main reason for being present on multiple platforms is so that we can reach a larger audience. There is a saturation of people trying to be influencers. It helps level the playing field when you try multiple approachs to reach your audience.

Aug 10, 10:11AM EDT0
What does food mean to your relationship?
Aug 10, 9:27AM EDT1

Creating memerable meals for others has been the great joy of my life. I'm fortunate to have a wife who has my same passion for food and who isn't a picky eater.

I feel that food can be the great unifier for most relationships. For us, it is a time to enjoy what we have and reflect on how fortunate we have become.

Aug 10, 9:55AM EDT0
From a psychology and chef stand point together what do you have to offer readers of your blogs, and followers on your social media?
Aug 10, 6:48AM EDT1

Briana has been effective in her work because she is very analytical and loves to work with people. I am a very passionate person who thrives on the chaos of the kitchen. Our blog post and instagram accounts provide insights from two very different perspectives. 

We both have humble beginnings and have worked very hard to get where we are. It is this fact that makes us constantly grateful and relatable to our audience. Although we lead appealing lifestyles, we were not born into them. We offer our readers a glimpse at whats possible if you dedicate yourself.

Aug 10, 10:09AM EDT0
Why did you leave the food industry to go for the influencer career path, what do you hope to accomplish by doing so?
Aug 9, 10:14PM EDT1

Food has been my lifes passion but I had been looking for ways to conquer long term goals in the food world. I will still occasionally do private chef work but I love the freedom that influencer work allows.

I now get to travel the world and try authentic local cuisines. The long term goal is to generate enough reveniew and attention to open a successful restaurant or host a cooking show.

Aug 10, 6:45AM EDT0
How would you describe your mentoring system?
Aug 9, 11:42AM EDT1

I present it in terms of a tutor/ student relationship. I teach you everything you need to succed, keep you motivated and keep you on track. Ultimately, your level of success is how much you apply yourself.

A tutor can teach you tricks to study and work more effeciently but its up to you to do the assignments. There is now magic solution to conquer instagram but there are many tools to give you the cutting edge.

Aug 10, 6:50AM EDT0
What is a growth mentor? What type of help or assistance do you as a growth mentor offer others?
Aug 9, 6:06AM EDT1

A growth mentor, in a nutshell, is someone who teachs you to grow your following on instagram. As a mentor I teach you how to use that following to aquire sponsorships and monetize. The defining factor that sets me apart from other mentors is that I offer a targeted following of actual users who are intersted in your niche and highly engaged.

I do weekly sessions with my clients to get them on the path to start earning as quick as 3 weeks into the program. I also my myself avaiable throughout the week to answer and questions that may present themselves.

Aug 10, 6:55AM EDT0
How do you manage your 12 social network accounts?
Aug 9, 5:26AM EDT1

Organization and prioritizing are key to managing our multiple social media platforms. The platforms that generate more leads and web traffic always come first.

I feel that in any digital nomad work, where you are your own boss, you need to be keep yourself motivated and disciplined. We are constantly re-examing our methods and their results to be as effient with our time as possible.

My experience as a long time chef has helped me be great at multi-tasking. Briana's experience in her clinical work has made her great at analyzing and interpreting patterns. We use all our previous work experience and apply it to this business.

Aug 10, 7:03AM EDT0
How has being a chef/psychologist helped you to overcome the transition from the food industry to the social media and marketing industry?
Aug 9, 4:49AM EDT1

As a chef, there is always a constant demand for excellence and multi-tasking. Briana's work in pychology has required her to recognize patterns and implement plans to help modify behaviors. We use these skill sets with our current work.

The biggest advice I can offer anyone thinking of diving into this type of work is to play on your strengths. We all have areas where we excell, you just need to be creative to apply those skills to this work.

Aug 10, 7:33AM EDT0
What techniques have you used to monetize Instagram?
Aug 9, 3:10AM EDT1

There are several methods that are covered in our program but at their core is having a targeted audience. The number of followers you gain are meaningless if they have no interest in your niche, its all flash with no substance. This is why you should never purchase followers.

There are endless spam accounts on instagram who will follow accounts but this only hurts you. Firstly, having random spam followers will dramatically hurt your engagment as you grow. Secondly, you want to have followers that genuinely enjoys your content, otherwise they will unfollow quickly. Lastly, having a targeted following will help you cultivate relationships with sponsors.

The biggest misconception is that all monetiztion is through sponsors. Until you reach a massive following, sponsors will only help generate passive income. Thats why we use multiple methods to make as much money as possible, giving you the ability to do this as your full-time job.

Aug 10, 7:42AM EDT0
What was the most challenging part of leaving your job and moving abroad?
Aug 9, 2:22AM EDT1

The biggest challenge for me, Javier, was that I love the intensity of the kitchen. It is a very demanding job with I find immensly rewarding. Briana has loved working with children and helping under respresented parts of the community. We both realized that we could reach more people in our respective fields if we followed our dreams. We now have a forum to connect with so many more people and plan to open our own businesses (restaurant/private practice) as we become more successful.

Moving abroad can always be a little intimidating but we embraced it. If you are looking for the ideal time to make a major life change, you will never take the plunge. There will always be a new excuse that will come up but if you put trust in yourself and dream big, endless possibilities open up. The hardest part was not being fluent in the local language but we are working on it.

Aug 10, 7:56AM EDT0
Brianna's parents, particularly her father, had an immense influence on her food choices. As a chef yourself, how did her unique education in food influence your style of cooking?
Aug 8, 11:24PM EDT1

Briana's father is a huge advocate of healthy eating and helped instill those Ideals with her. It also has made her an adventurous eater, always open to trying new food.

Many chefs are notorious for having terrible eating habits. After working 12-14 hour shifts, most chefs I know rather have fast food instead of cooking at home. Luckily, I am not one of these types of chefs. I don't eat processed foods or instant crap. Briana helped reinforce this when we met. However, if im just cooking for myself, I keep it super simple and do minimal effort meals. Briana is definitely my muse and reason for making full-on restaurant calibler food at home. Her openess to new foods always inspires me to experiment in the kitchen. It's not uncommon for me to prepare Thai, Indian, Mexican or Italian cuisine in the same week, all from scratch.

Aug 10, 8:11AM EDT0
Was the move to Italy and becoming influencers a well-thought out plan or just a sudden crazy idea? What events in your life led you to this decision?
Aug 8, 10:33PM EDT1

Moving to Italy was a long term plan that we had been saving for over the course of 5 years. We sacrificed any luxury such as eating out, going to bars with friends or buying non-essentials to make it possible.

Becoming influencers was totally unexpected and on a whim. We actually saw one of Briana's grad school friends, who had become a successful influencer, while browsing instagram. When we saw someone we knew doing this kind of work, it made it seem more attainable. We gave ourselves a year to pursue this avenue to see if we could make it work. Eight months later, we started gaining sponsorships and generating an income.

In those 8 months we worked relentlessly to figure out how to make it as an influencer. Trial and error, online courses and chat groups gave us all the raw data we needed to organize a streamlined course to become successful. We tested our methods on new accounts and confirmed what was the most effecient.

We began to get followers asking how we succeeded on instagram. That is how we began to mentor and create our conprehensive program we offer today.

Aug 10, 8:26AM EDT0
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