A day in the life of a 23-year-old, 6-figure-earning marketing entrepreneur who started as a waitress at Steak-n-Shake

Sherane Chen
Sherane Chen

At 16, Sherane Chen started her first job at Steak-n-Shake as a waitress. By the age of 21, she’d launched a business specializing in restaurant marketing. Today it earns six figures, and Chen also works full-time as a marketing lead.

She got here by gaining restaurant industry experience, studying marketing, and having the confidence and wherewithal to spot an opportunity to combine her two areas of expertise.

During and after college at the University of North Florida where she studied communications, Chen worked in restaurants. She made sure to build a savings, because she knew one day she wanted to start her own business.

After years as a waitress, she got a job in marketing at a local place called Oceanside Grill where she learned the operational aspects of the restaurant business. When she launched her own marketing firm focusing on social media management, graphic design, video creation, and hiring in 2019, Chen landed her first clients selling marketing services door to door.

“I would say, ‘hey I found your social and saw you weren’t active and I wanted to give you some tips on how you can get more customers in the door,'” she told Insider. She would leave behind her business card and wait for them to call.

Today her company has 17 clients and makes over six figures a year, according to documents provided to Insider. Chen also works full-time as a marketing lead at a business coaching company. To Insider she reveals what her typical day is like, from walks on the beach, to endless Zoom calls with clients.

She wakes up at 7 a.m. making her first of many cups of coffee

Chen’s day typically begins at 7 a.m.

The eponymous restaurant company she founded has always been remote, which has allowed her to work from wherever, whenever. It currently has two-full time staffers including a graphic designer, a social media manager, and a part-time copywriter.

Before the pandemic, Chen used to work from local coffee shops, but now that she’s working from home, she invested in a top-tier coffee machine that keeps her going throughout the day. “I truly don’t know a marketer who doesn’t love a good cup of coffee to get all of the creative juices flowing,” she added.

Sherane Chen

After having her coffee, she then either makes breakfast or “treats” herself to a breakfast from a restaurant nearby. “Whenever I eat out for breakfast I usually take my computer so I can work on a few things while I’m out,” she continued. “The area I live in is peaceful and not very crowded so it’s usually just me getting things done while enjoying pancakes, eggs, bacon, and whatever else I decide to have that day.”

Around 9 a.m. she prepares to Zoom with her clients

After finishing breakfast, she prepares for her meetings with clients, which have been happening over Zoom since the pandemic struck.

Normally, she said, she would meet them at their restaurant to work on rebranding various parts of it, such as the menu, or develop new general marketing strategies. “We work on the strategy together and then I re-assign to my employees who took over most of the tactical things for me,” she said.

This part usually takes up most of her day. Meanwhile, Chen also makes ads for her own business, which she then runs on platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook to help attract new clients.

Aside from running her own company, Chen also spends her day working as marketing and sales lead for a business coaching company called The Unstoppable Entrepreneur owned by Kelly Roach. Chen has worked there for nearly two years and makes six figures there, as well. For that company, she helps manage the marketing team, ads, and helps coach Roach’s clients on the various aspects of marketing.

Chen always finds time to take a ‘breather’ during the day

Like most, her workload depends on what day she is having. “It’s not the same every day,” she said. “Some days are super chill and others are hectic. All holidays are really busy, and the start of each season – spring, summer, fall, and winter.”

Once Chen finishes the bulk of her workload, typically after lunch or in the early evening, she goes to get some fresh air. Her favorite place to go is the beach because it’s close to where she lives. “Taking a walk along the beach really helps to clear my head and gives me the boost of energy I need after being on the screen for so long,” she said.

Sherane Chen

Often during the day, Chen hops on the phone with her mentor Bruno DiFabio, a pizza chef who’s been helping her “learn the ropes” of the restaurant business for the past two years. Together they chat about ways to help grow her business.

And he isn’t the only mentor Chen has had these past few years – at 19, she met local business owner Nate Mayo, who does social media marketing and photography for various Jacksonville-based restaurants, and has a viral Instagram account that highlights popular food places in the area. Chen snagged an internship with Mayo around 2016 and began working for him, which inspired her to launch her own company.

Chen also counts Roach as a mentor as well. “Kelly has taught me how to be resilient and how to be the best what you do,” she said. “She taught me how to work for the things I want and never give up.”

After her ‘breather’ she goes straight back to work

She typically holds more meetings with restaurant owners throughout the evening, especially since the “lunch rush” is finished, which is usually around 2 p.m. She also continues assignments for Roach’s company.

Chen says to manage the workload of having two jobs she makes sure to always take some time off. She books vacations and takes breathers such as the walk above. Chen also sometimes gets up an hour early to clear her head and prepare herself to stay focused for the day ahead.

After her breather, she usually goes back to work but likes to make a “quick snack.” She likes to recreate YouTube recipes, such as the snack she made pictured below. “I found this on Youtube years ago and have been eating it ever since,” she said. “Brown rice cakes, almond butter, and chia seeds are really filling and hit the spot when you are not a big lunch person.”

Sherane Chen
A snack

Around 6 p.m. she takes photographs outside

Chen’s favorite time of the day is “golden hour” – around 6 p.m. when the sky is a golden-tinted yellow. Chen takes advantage of the good quality light to take photographs of food she is seeking to help advertise.

Sometimes she has to hire someone to help her do it, as work can get busy. “I don’t really get a chance to do food photography anymore,” she said. “When I do have time to go, I love it.”

She eats dinner around 7:30, this day choosing to grab Mediterranean food. Afterward, she spends time studying – reading new books to help her gain knowledge in different areas outside of marketing. She’s currently reading “Zig Ziglar’s Secrets of Closing the Sale” by Zig Ziglar and “Spin Selling” by Neil Rackham.

Sherane Chen

She goes to bed around 11 p.m.

Chen says she doesn’t really “finish” work until around 11 pm. “People always need me all day,” she said, of her marketing exec job. “It’s a management role so I always get my team texting me at all hours.”

But when the calls finally stop and the text messages slow down, Chen has time to think about her next business idea – a podcast agency that helps brands and entrepreneurs achieve success in podcasting. She’s already started running ads for the venture.

“I’m working toward seven streams of income to be a millionaire by 2025,” she said, adding that she has a dream board of other projects she would like to helm. Asked about possible burnout, Chen let her ambition answer for her. “Just keep your focus on what you’re working hard for,” she said. “If you want it bad enough, you’ll make it happen.”

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Amazon says it supports expanding voting rights but it gave $500,000 to lawmakers who oppose those efforts

amazon jeff bezos white house
Amazon funds candidates who support policies that have made it harder for Americans – particularly African Americans – to vote.

  • Amazon said in a statement Tuesday that it supports efforts to “protect and expand” voting rights.
  • But the company spent more than $500,000 last election cycle funding politicians who oppose those efforts.
  • It also gave money to the Texas GOP, which has been passing restrictive voting laws for years.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Earlier this week, voting rights activists called for boycotts of Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, and Home Depot, blasting the Georgia-based companies for not doing enough to oppose a controversial new state law that they condemned as voter suppression.

While all three issued generic statements in support of voting rights, critics accused the multibillion-dollar corporations, which have massive influence in national- and state-level politics, of failing to back up those words with actions – or their pocketbooks.

As Republican-led legislatures advance similar bills in Texas and other states, some companies have tried to get ahead of the backlash by issuing statements condemning efforts to restrict voting rights.

But many have a poor track record when it comes to supporting the lawmakers behind those efforts.

Read more: How Black Americans still face disproportionate barriers to the ballot box in 2020

More than 70 Black business leaders, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Microsoft, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon all came out with statements opposing bills like the one Georgia passed, as did Amazon.

“It has been fifty-six years since the Voting Rights Act became law, yet efforts to disenfranchise Black people and other minorities continue to this day. The ability to vote is one of the most prized fundamental rights in our American democracy, and Amazon supports policies that protect and expand those rights,” Amazon PR and public policy chief Jay Carney said in a statement on Twitter.

Carney, who previously worked as President Barack Obama’s press secretary, praised efforts to expand voting rights in Virginia, where Amazon has a major presence and therefore plenty of reasons to stay in the good graces of its Democratic governor and state legislature.

“We oppose efforts in other states aimed at restricting the ability of Americans to vote,” Carney added.

But that’s not quite accurate, at least in terms of which politicians Amazon has supported. (Amazon did not respond to multiple requests for comment on this story).

Amazon spent $18.7 million on lobbying last year, an increase of 30% since 2018, making it the biggest spender in the US other than Facebook. Those expenditures help Amazon convince current members of Congress to pass laws that will benefit its business, like tax cuts and subsidies or bigger budgets for the government agencies it contracts with.

The company also gives money to congressional members and candidates to try to keep friendlier lawmakers in power or force unfriendly ones out. Amazon does that through its corporate Political Action Committee, which spent $1.9 million during the 2019-2020 election cycle alone, according to Insider’s analysis of Federal Election Commission data via Open Secrets.

Of the $1.3 million that Amazon’s PAC gave to individuals, $471,000 went to lawmakers who voted against the For the People Act, which would expand access to the ballot box, voter registration opportunities, and mail-in and early voting, as well as creating increased transparency in the US’ campaign finance system.

And many of those lawmakers have a long history of opposing efforts to expand voting rights, both at the federal and state level.

Of the 186 Republican House members who voted in 2019 against restoring key parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which would have made it harder for states like Georgia to pass voter suppression laws, Amazon supported 143 members, giving them a total of $510,000.

Just last May, California Rep. Darrell Issa sued the state for sending mail-in ballots to residents so they could vote safely during the pandemic. Amazon gave Issa $5,000 last election cycle.

According to data from the Texas Ethics Commission, Amazon also gave $15,000 last year to Republican lawmakers in the state, despite years of the party passing notoriously restrictive and discriminatory voter ID laws.

Voting rights have been a hyperpartisan issue for years, with Republicans arguing that restrictive voting rules are needed to prevent widespread fraud. But independent experts within and outside of the US have proved dozens of times that fraud is extremely rare and has never affected the outcome of an election and that bills restricting voting rights disproportionately impact people of color.

Yet Amazon has continued to support GOP lawmakers who even opposed Congress’ last successful bipartisan voting rights law in 2002, the Help America Vote Act. Amazon gave a combined $53,500 to 12 of the members who fought that effort and are still in Congress over the past two years.

Following the attempted insurrection on January 6, civil rights activists and consumers pressured companies to stop financially supporting the 147 GOP lawmakers who voted against certifying states’ Electoral College results.

Dozens did, including Amazon, which had given $253,500 to 76 of those members, though it only promised to “suspend” those contributions, leaving the door open for the company to potentially resume its support closer to the 2022 congressional races.

Whether Amazon stands by its promise to oppose efforts “aimed at restricting the ability of Americans to vote” remains to be seen. But its spending record so far shows that it has often supported the lawmakers behind those exact efforts.

Read more: AT&T and Cigna are funding Republican groups led by election objectors they had promised to stop supporting

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A leaked Amazon document reveals what its army of warehouse workers are and aren’t allowed to say on social media

Amazon warehouse staff
  • Amazon’s army of warehouse employees trained to defend the company on Twitter is at it again.
  • The employee accounts follow a standard format, and tend to resurface amid negative press coverage.
  • A newly leaked Amazon document reveals what the workers are and aren’t allowed to discuss.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Amazon’s army of warehouse workers paid to be on Twitter is notorious for showing up in conversations with the intent of defending Amazon.

The workers are also notorious for having eerily robotic speech patterns.

“I can assure you that I’m a real account,” a recent response from one such worker said. “I’m part of a program that lets me come on here & have conversations about what working for Amazon has been like for me. I’d like to know why you feel we are treated/paid bad. I’ve been so happy here & the pay/benefits are great.”

There’s a good reason for those speech patterns, according to a leaked Amazon document obtained by The Intercept. Amazon has a set of guidelines for what those employees can and cannot say, and even offers examples of how to respond.

First and foremost is that “FCAs,” or “Fulfillment Center Ambassadors,” cannot respond to anything regarding unionization, according to the document.

That’s particularly notable given this week’s unionization vote at an Amazon fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama. If it passes, it would be the first major union of Amazon workers.

Additionally, they can’t respond to direct media requests without approval from Amazon’s public relations department. They are also barred from responding to “compound” criticisms, or a tweet that also contains a topic that Amazon PR has not approved the FCAs to comment on.

The document offers an example of a tweet that FCAs should not respond to based on such criteria: “@Amazon why are you still advertising on breitbart?! Between that and barely paying your employees, I’m ready to quit shopping with you,” the example said.

Similarly enlightening, the document offers a variety of examples of the type of social media posts that FC Ambassadors should interact with – and the kind of responses the company finds appropriate.

The first example directly addresses the years-long reports from Amazon workers that they have to pee in bottles during shifts to save time: “Example: ‘Daily Sun: Amazon employees forced to urinate in bottles during their shift’.”

Amazon driver thumb pee bottle
An Amazon driver shared this photo with Insider of a bottle of pee inside a delivery van last week.

The example response in the document reads almost exactly like some of the responses from FC Ambassadors.

“No, that’s not right,” the example says. “I worked in an Amazon FC for over four years and never saw anyone urinate in a bottle. There are easily accessible bathrooms in every one of our buildings I’ve ever been in.”

Amazon’s FC Ambassador program isn’t new.

Back in 2018, Amazon admitted to paying a small army of employees to tweet positive things about the company. The document obtained by The Intercept is from 2018, when the program was formed under the code name “Veritas” (Latin for “truth).

It established the foundation of the program, and its purpose: “To address speculation and false assertions in social media and online forums about the quality of the FC associate experience, we are creating a new social team staffed with active, tenured FC employees, who will be empowered to respond in polite – but blunt – ways to every untruth,” the document says.

FC Ambassadors are paid the same hourly rate they get for their warehouse work, Amazon says, and it’s an “entirely voluntary” program.

Since the program started in 2018, a variety of accounts originally associated with it have been deactivated. And in the last few weeks, a handful of new FC accounts have sprung up as reports surfaced once again of employees having to urinate in bottles to preserve work time. The vast majority of FC Ambassador replies on social media specifically address these reports.

When reached for comment, Amazon spokesperson Lisa Levandowski said: “FC Ambassadors are employees who work in our fulfillment centers and choose to share their personal experience – the FC ambassador program helps show what it’s actually like inside our fulfillment centers, along with the public tours we provide. We encourage anyone who wants to see for themselves to sign up for a tour at www.amazonfctours.com.”

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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