Elyse Myers teaches us that authenticity is the best way to build community
If you haven’t heard of the “Taco Guy” yet, let me introduce you to Elyse Myers. Residing in Omaha, NE, Myers became a TikTok sensation after her story about the worst date she’s ever attended – where her date asked her to buy 100 tacos at Taco Bell – went viral. . Owning a web design business, Myers turned to TikTok as a creative outlet for his everyday funny stories during the pandemic. When the “taco guy” story went viral, she realized she had started to build community around the hilarious and mundane things we all experience in our everyday lives.
I got to interview Myers to talk about what it’s like to create a community around being authentic herself, every day and what awaits her.
Stephanie Burns: You have a web design business and then you went viral on TikTok for your funny stories. Did you originally use it to promote your business?
Elyse Myers: Honestly, TikTok wasn’t something I had planned to do, it was something I was spending my time. I downloaded it during the height of the pandemic and my husband Jonas and I were just sharing videos for entertainment. So I started making videos because I needed a little outlet that didn’t work. It wasn’t my husband, it wasn’t my son, just something that was separate, my own thing that I could do and create. I chose it as a creative outlet and started telling my stories.
I was doing things in the moment, I was just starting to record a thought I had, or a story that was funny, and I didn’t think it would reach anyone, honestly. I wasn’t trying to be successful on TikTok, so I never thought millions of people would want to see me talk about my love for coffee at four in the morning, but here we are!
Burns: You have created a community of millions of people, many of whom are making impressions on you and eagerly awaiting your content. Why do you think your community has grown so quickly?
Myers: Honestly, I’m still trying to figure it out! It sounds like a huge gift that was given to me to be able to connect with people on a very ordinary level. I think I discovered that by sharing these very simple stories in my life that I tell in a way that makes them so ridiculous and incredible, I end up being relatable. If you sum up all the stories I have told like I had a bad date I got bullied or spoke too loud in a public place these are the same stories most people have. . And because people can connect to these stories, I feel like I’m holding a mirror in front of 2.7 million people and saying your life is amazing too.
I want to continue to share the ordinary in my life and continue to show people that there are very extraordinary things that happen in ordinary times. Maybe that’s why so many people have followed me.
Burns: How do you promote authenticity within your community?
Myers: I think the best thing I can do for them, and honestly for my health and that of my family, is to continue to stick with it. I think the bigger this all got, the easier it would be to come to terms with the idea that I’m more important than I am, or that now I’m too good to live the way I was when it all started. It sounds very simple, but I think the best thing I can do to take care of these people who invest so much time, energy and attention in me and my family is to keep my feet on the ground. .
No matter what doors open to me or what opportunity presents itself, it’s not going to change me on a fundamental level. I’ll still be sharing stories with people 20 years from now and wearing graphic t-shirts that I bought at the thrift store. If I associate with a brand, it will be because I love it and believe in it. If I sell something, it will be because I think it’s amazing and will add value to someone’s life, not because I just want to make a quick buck. I think authenticity is important to my community and the people who come forward to me every day. I have already said no to a lot of things. If I was selling myself just to make money, promote things that I don’t believe in, I wouldn’t be accessible to people and I wouldn’t have had this platform. And so all that to say, I think just just staying grounded and holding this idea that I’m an ordinary person that brings out the ordinary in life, is really beautiful. I think it’s worth protecting him.
Burns: How did you give back to your community?
Myers: Within the community, I try to draw attention to the people who are already doing the work and who are causes and organizations that I want to serve and promote. I told a story on TikTok about how I always went to the humanitarian company website and Jonas literally walked into the living room to find me sobbing into my phone and wanting to adopt all the animals. I ended up blocking this IP and domain so I couldn’t go to this site again but we adopted a dog and because of this post the Humane Society duo the video and it was a great success for them. They showed all of their animals and found them homes.
I also had a woman who created a video in my style in the hopes that I would see it and share it. She raised funds for Christmas gifts for foster children and her goal was to sponsor around 100 children. I’m sure when she started this video she could never have imagined that she could get gifts for the hundred kids, but she was going to work all month to achieve her goal. She tagged her video to me and I went to the video and then paired it up to give it some visibility and help it achieve its goal. Her goal was $ 3,000 and she had raised approximately $ 15,000. Rosie O’Donnell saw my video and she did it as a duet as well, which allowed her to spread awareness.
I think it’s such a beautiful thing, that all it took was for me to like or duet a video for this woman to have the kind of impact she wanted to have. And that’s all her, she does the hard work. It feels good to help people in my community amplify the amazing things they are doing.
Burns: So what’s the next step for your business? Will you continue to run your web design business or will you go into content creation full time?
Myers: Everything is so new and fresh, it’s hard to say what’s next. It could be a book, a show, I’m not really sure. I know I want to keep creating content and improving myself. I really feel like I have my business to return to if all of this were to go tomorrow, it’s an incredible blessing. I am not desperate. If I don’t fully believe in an opportunity that presents itself, I’m not going to jump on it. My family will have everything they need to be successful and be well. And so it really allows me to be intentional with the things that I do. It allows me to have space to improve myself in what I do because I don’t have to take every opportunity. I can spend time learning and improving these skills which will be so much more refined the moment I say yes.
I spoke with Leslie Jones who became a mentor and we had this amazing conversation where she was talking to me about desperation. She reminded me that desperate people make desperate decisions and find themselves in places where all of a sudden they’re in this season of their career that they don’t believe in, or that don’t match their values. . She told me that you would never regret waiting a few days or even years to make a decision. But you will always regret that you did something too soon or something you weren’t ready for. I hang on to that, it was a very strong conversation for me, especially as a businesswoman. I feel like it would be easy to say, “Well, no one is ever going to take a chance with me again. So you might as well take this opportunity when it comes.” But I believe in myself much more than that. I know I’m good at my job, and not being desperate is a very powerful position if you’re lucky enough to be there. This is how I feel about my business. He will always be there to support me and that gives me the peace and space to be intentional about what is to come.