Jennifer Cue spent over a decade building Jones Soda, a Seattle-based craft beverage company. Serving in various roles, include CFO and COO, she played an integral role in helping the organization reach the $40 million mark.
But Cue sensed that something wasn’t right. “I’d never had a break from school or work since high school,” she explains. “I had just spent 11 years building Jones Soda from zero revenues and it had been a long haul.”
Cue says she didn’t really have a personal life and was definitely becoming a workaholic. “I was being enticed by other opportunities in the U.S., but I knew if I jumped into something else, I might not change my workaholic habits.”
Instead, Cue says she decided she needed to learn how to “be” and not “do” for a while. In other works, Cue explains, “I took a work detox to learn to ‘be’ and be happy with that as opposed to filling time with do, do, do.”
A work detox can vary from person to person, and she explains that it’s not always necessary to stop working. “It means you need to take a step back and make a change if you are stressed and unhappy.” So, it could be as simple as finding a new work space or as major as making a career change. “Leave your comfort zone and embrace the unknown,” Cue says. “This could be the key to unlocking personal fulfillment and finding career success.”
So, what did Cue’s work detox entail? It was a major detox. She left the U.S. for an extended European stay – in fact Cue was gone for six years. “It brought me new perspective on other things in life, such as travel, language skills, knowledge outside of work (such as European art and history), family, and friends.
Cue reveals that she left at a low point, but says she returned at a high point, on both a personal level – she got married – and on a professional level. When she initially returned to the company, six years later, the organization was faltering. But, Cue – who wrote the original business plan – was up to the challenge. “I knew the brand Jones Soda like a child,” Cue says. “I needed to fix the company/management so the first thing I did was to complete a turnaround.”
Then, she focused on innovations, including Lemoncocco. Cue met her future husband, Antonio, in Rome, Italy; he grew up on the flavor and introduced it to her. “I fell in love with this flavor profile and wanted to create a North American version; when I returned to Jones Soda Co, Antonio and I had the opportunity to do so.”
Lemoncoco is an all-natural, non-carbonated drink that blends lemon and coconut flavors. The premium soda company also makes such flavors as blue bubblegum, green apple, fufu berry, strawberry lime, and birthday cake soda, in addition to such traditional flavors like root beer, orange & cream, and cream soda.
Customers can also upload photos, which might be chosen to be on the label of a Jones Soda bottle. In addition, “My Jones” allows customers to purchase customized bottles with the label of their choosing.
So, does Cue have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs? “Only start something you are super passionate about,” she says. “This will carry you through dark and difficult times.”
And, although she enjoyed living in Europe, Cue says, “Balance family life with work, so you won’t need to go to rehab for workaholics.”
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