Jillian Manus is coming to Camp Hustle

Jillian Manus is a ghost.

When Elizabeth Yin first suggested Jillian as a speaker for Camp Hustle, I did the first thing anyone in the 21st century would do: I googled her.

At the time, all I knew about Jillian was that she started and sold three different tequila companies, one of which was co-founded by Carlos Santana. But if you search "Jillian Manus tequila" or "Jillian Manus Carlos Santana", nothing comes up.

In fact, finding anything on Jillian was nearly impossible.

At first, I was frustrated. Who is this person who refuses to share her entire life online?! Rude

Then I got curious. Who is this person who refuses to share her entire life online? Intriguing.

So I hopped on a call with Jillian. I expected it to last 30 minutes and that we'd cover some basics:

  • why did you start 3 tequila companies?
  • did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
  • how did you get into venture capital?

Instead we were on the phone for an hour and a half. And rather than some facts about her entrepreneurial journey, what I got was:

  • how she went from being a banker at Credit Suisse to living on the streets of NYC
  • the jobs she took to get back on her feet, like being a rollerskating waitress for MTV even though she couldn't rollerskate
  • how she became paralyzed and told she would never walk again (she did)
  • why she started a sexual harassment hotline
  • the time an investor asked if she "felt like a hooker asking men for money"
  • the time a Fortune 500 CEO asked her about her underwear during her interview for a board seat
  • how she built a tequila company with Carlos Santana... then started and sold 2 additional tequila companies
  • her experience working at a tech magazine back when Microsoft and Oracle were just starting out

Honestly, writing this email has been so hard for me because I just don't know where to start.

Do I tell the story of how she collected and re-purpose unused items from local businesses as a way to pull herself out a shelter?

Do I tell the story of how she lived on the street when she no longer needed to, in order to support her friends and "family" who were still experiencing homelessness?

Do I tell the story of how she started a brand communications company that helped celebrities find new ways to earn revenue by branching out into consumer goods?

Do I tell the story of how Carlos Santana asked Jillian to help him launch a tequila brand, but she didn't know anything about tequila, so she went to Mexico and learned?

Do I tell the story of how she learned that there's huge demand for tequila amongst women in China?

Do I tell the story of how she invested in microchips in the 80s?

Do I tell the story of how she started Structure Capital, and why it's focused on zero-waste companies?

Hard to choose just one.

So, I'm making the decision not to tell any of them. You'll have to come to Camp Hustle and hear these stories for yourself.

But I promise you, you won't want her talk to end. Rather, you'll walk away from Jillian Manus wanting desperately to be part of her orbit.