Jana Francis: Great person, great Mom, great friend.
A wise man once told me, “the future of business is community.”
That man is Brian Fanzo @iSocialFanz, and in my opinion, he couldn’t be more correct.
By watching and listening to Brian’s broadcasts — and actively participating as part of the community — I was recently introduced to a young woman whose community has supported her and her multi-million dollar company for years: Jana Francis.
Brian, Jana and I are each entrepreneurs in our own right, but the one hard-wired trait we share is this: an endless desire to help others grow and succeed, particularly via social media.
I connected with Jana — the CEO and Founder of Steals.com, a Salt Lake City-based daily deals conglomerate that includes KidSteals, SheSteals, BabySteals and ScrapbookSteals — through live-streaming (and a shared kinship with Brian) several months ago. And although we conversed quite frequently via Blab, Periscope, SnapChat, etc., I never realized Jana’s role as a CEO until the formal lead-up to Summit.Live in San Francisco.
To me — even now — I don’t view Jana as a boss. Rather, I associate Jana with an assortment of surprisingly human traits: an ever-supportive community member, a loving Mother, and one of my best friends.
Jana’s genuine care for the community was never more evident than several weekends ago, when the vapidly polarizing Nathan Latka took to Blab to verbally attack Brian. I sent a SnapChat about the situation to Jana, and within seconds, there she was, staunchly defending Brian in the comments, ready to jump on video to vociferously stand her ground.
Jana’s motherly traits are evident daily on her SnapChat story, as her darling daughter, Jane, often takes center stage. The most humbling Snap I’ve ever received was a video message of Jane excitedly reading my new book, “50 States, 100 Days: The Book.” (Jane’s jaw also dropped when Mom broke the news that she’d met “The” Chris Strub in San Francisco …)
And when SnapChat icon Shonduras literally showed up at Jana’s front step last week, the Mom in Jana came first — offering the young father an item to take home for his baby daughter. (Talk about genuine maternal instincts and correct priorities.)
Above and beyond all of that, to me, is Jana’s friendship. Last Friday night, I found myself relaxing on SnapChat in my apartment, watching the start of an NBA game, when all the sudden a live video message from Jana popped up.
She was hanging around her house, cleaning up and doing some laundry, and next thing I knew, the game was in the 4th quarter, my iPhone battery was nearly toast and we’d spent nearly two hours chatting — about friendships, about social media, about business, and about life. Jane even popped by twice, probably wondering who Mom was talking to for so long. In a world where we are constricted to wacky, artistic videos of 10 seconds or less, and a world where our time is far and away our most valuable asset, this was the longest conversation I’ve had with anyone — anyone — in months.
At the end of the chat, Jana floated the idea of me writing a guest post for KidSteals, because of my experience traveling the United States doing volunteer work last summer. “You can write all about your book!” she said, encouragingly. I agreed.
But this post isn’t about my book — but it’s true to the essence of the book: that I will always go out of my way to, and use my words to, celebrate those who, at their very core, go out of their way to celebrate others. My book tells the stories of nonprofit executives, staff members, volunteers and, most importantly, awesome kids from around the United States who could use our help. If you buy it, it will support me on my mission to tell even more such great stories.
But to me, having developed a friendship — a true, genuine, down-to-earth friendship — with a kind-hearted woman like Jana Francis is more valuable than anything that either one of us could sell.
The future of business is community — and, Brian, the future is now.
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Chris Strub is the first man to live-stream and SnapChat in all 50 U.S. states, and the proud owner of a jar of Perfection Chocolates Caramel that he bought on Steals.com. During the summer of 2015, Chris worked with youth organizations across the country to raise awareness for volunteerism in America. Read his story here.