Until a couple weeks ago, the 37-year-old woman was a decidedly un-famous manager at an Austin, Texas, Krispy Kreme store. She loved decorating doughnuts and serving the regulars she’s seen for years.
Then came Jia Jiang, a hidden camera, a 2.6 million-hit YouTube video and legions of fans across the world. All because she was captured on film giving Olympian customer service.
“It’s the funniest thing,” Braun said. “I guess doughnuts make people happy.”
The back story? Jiang, 31, owns a start-up called Hooplus, which is building a social media application to help people keep their promises. But earlier this month, he got turned down by a big potential investor in his company.
Crushed, Jiang decided to inoculate himself against future rejection by embarking on what he calls “100 Days of Rejection Therapy” — making odd requests of strangers and hoping to hear “no” so he’d get used to it.
“It’s not the rejection, it’s the fear of rejection that holds us back,” he said.
Jiang secretly video recorded his experiences with his camouflaged iPhone and posted them on his blog, entresting.com, and YouTube.
On Day 1, he asked a stranger to borrow $100. The answer was no.
On Day 2, he asked for a “burger refill” (aka, free food) at a local restaurant. Again, no.
Then Jiang asked Braun to make him doughnuts in the shape of the Olympic rings. He said he needed them in 15 minutes. Then he waited for the inevitable no.
Instead, the video shows, Braun starts asking questions, drawing diagrams and thinking it out. Finally she says, “I may not be able to link them, but maybe make them look like they’re interlinked.”
Fifteen minutes later, Braun returns with her creation: three full doughnuts nudging two half ones, glazed in the correct colors — blue, yellow, green, black and red — of the Olympic logo.
Jiang, stunned, compliments her. Then he asks where to pay for the doughnuts.
“Don’t even worry about it, that one’s on me,” she answers with a smile.
Jiang posted the video Nov. 18. By Friday, it had been watched more than 2.6 million times.
“Jackie, you’re the reason why good things still good,” one viewer proclaimed on YouTube. “Love from Egypt!:)”
“Way to go Jackie!!!!” another gushed. “You’re a class act and the finest example of a great employee.”
The store has received hundreds of emails. Customers have streamed in to meet Jackie. Corporate leaders have called to thank her. She’s gotten a few job offers, none of which she is considering. And an online campaign at indiegogo.com is raising money for a vacation for Braun — one of “the people we need more of in this world.”
Braun says she’s shocked at the response.
“We take special orders all the time,” she said. “From what I’ve been reading, I guess people have been missing this kind of customer service.”
Since the video went viral, Jiang — who says he’s not a big fan of doughnuts — has continued to throw himself into rejection-likely scenarios. (His effort to speak over the Costco intercom was a no-go.) And the Olympic rings?
“They were great,” Jiang said. “I took them home and ate them.”