If you haven’t heard about the “Taco Guy” yet, please let me introduce you to Elyse Myers. Residing in Omaha, NE, Myers has become a TikTok sensation after her story about the worst date she’s ever been on – where her date asked her to buy 100 tacos from Taco Bell – went viral. Owning a website design firm, Myers turned to TikTok as a creative outlet for her funny, every day stories during the pandemic. When the “taco guy” story went viral, she realized that she had started to build a community around the hilarious and mundane things we all experience in our every day lives.
I was able to interview Myers to talk about what it’s like to create a community around being her authentic, every day self and what’s next for her.
Elyse Myers Teaches Us That Authenticity Is The Best Way To Create Community | Stephanie Burns
Stephanie Burns: You have a web design business and then went viral on TikTok for your funny stories. Were you originally using it to promote your business?
Elyse Myers: Honestly, TikTok wasn’t something I planned on doing, it was something I used to pass time. I downloaded it at the height of the pandemic lock down and my husband, Jonas, and I would just share videos back and forth, as a way to entertain each other. So then I started making videos because I needed a little bit of an outlet that wasn’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 would do things in the moment, just start recording a thought that 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 had the forethought that millions of people would want to watch me talk about my love for coffee at four in the morning, but here we are!
Burns: You’ve created a community of millions of people, a lot of whom do impressions of you and look forward to your content. Why do you think your community has grown so quickly?
Myers: Honestly, I’m still kind of trying to figure it out! This feels like a huge gift that I have been given to be able to relate to people on a very ordinary level. I think I’ve found that by sharing these really simple stories of my life that I tell in a way that makes them sound so ridiculous and incredible, that l end up being relatable. If you boiled down every story I’ve told, like I went on a bad date, I got bullied or I spoke too loudly in a public place, they’re the same stories that most people have. And because people can connect to those stories, it feels like I’m holding up a mirror to 2.7 million people and saying your life is this incredible, too.
I want to continue to share the ordinariness of my life, and to continue just showing people that there are very extraordinary things that happen in ordinary moments. That’s perhaps why so many people have followed me.
Burns: How are you fostering authenticity within your community?
Myers: I think that the best thing that I can do for them, and honestly for the health of myself and my family, is just to continue staying grounded in all of this. I think that the bigger this all gets, the easier it would be to buy into this idea that I’m more important than I am, or that now I’m too good to be living the way that I was when this all started. It sounds really simple, but I think that the best thing I can do to care for these people that are investing so much time, energy and attention into me and my family, is to keep grounded.
No matter what doors open to me or opportunity is presented my way, it isn’t going to change me on a fundamental level. I will still be sharing stories with people in 20 years and be wearing graphic tees that I got from the thrift store. If I partner with a brand, it’s going to be because I love it and I believe in it. If I’m selling something it’s going to be because I think it’s incredible and will bring value to someone’s life, not because I just want to make a quick buck. I think that authenticity is important to my community and the people who show up for me every day. I’ve already said no to a lot of things. If I sold out to just make money, promoting things I don’t believe in, I wouldn’t be relatable to people and I wouldn’t have been given this platform. And so all that to say, I think just staying grounded and maintaining this idea that I’m an ordinary person that highlight’s the ordinariness of life, is really beautiful. I think it’s worth protecting.
Burns: How have you been giving back to your community?
Myers: Within the community, I’m trying to bring attention to the people who are already doing the work and are causes and organizations that I want to serve and highlight. I told a story on TikTok about how I would always go onto the humane society website and Jonas would literally walk into the living room to find me sobbing into my phone wanting to adopt all of the animals. I ended up blocking that IP and domain so I can’t go on that site anymore, but we did adopt a dog and because of that post, the Humane Society dueted the video and it’s been very successful for them. They’ve been showing all of their animals and finding homes for them.
I also had a woman who created a video in my style in hopes that I would see it and share it. She was raising money for Christmas presents for foster kids, and her goal was to sponsor somewhere around a hundred kids. I’m sure when she started that video, she never could have imagined that she could get presents for all hundred kids, but she was going to work all month to get to her goal. She tagged me her video and I went to the video, then dueted it to give her some exposure to help her get to her goal. Her goal was $3,000 and she had raised around $15,000. Rosie O’Donnell saw my video and she dueted it as well, bringing even more awareness to it.
I think it’s such a beautiful thing, that all it took was me to like or duet a video so this woman could make the kind of impact she wanted to make. And that’s all her, she’s doing the hard work. It feels good to help people in my community amplify the amazing things they are doing.
Burns: So what’s next for your business? Will you continue running your web design business or are you moving into more content creation full time?
Myers: It’s all 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 do know that I want to keep creating content and getting better. I really feel like having my business to go back to if all of this were to leave tomorrow, is an incredible blessing. I’m not desperate. If I don’t believe fully in an opportunity that comes my way, I’m not going to jump at it. My family will have everything it needs to succeed and be okay. And so it really allows me to be intentional with the things that I do. It allows me to have the space to get better at what I do because I don’t have to take every opportunity. I can spend time learning and bettering those skills that will be so much more refined by the time I do say yes.
I have been speaking with Leslie Jones who has become a mentor and we had this incredible conversation where she was talking to me desperation. She reminded me that desperate people make desperate decisions and they get themselves into places where all of a sudden they’re in this season of their career they don’t believe in, or that doesn’t align with their values. She told me that you’re never going to regret waiting a couple of days, or even a couple of years, to make a decision. But you will always regret doing something too soon or something you weren’t ready for. I’m holding onto that, it was a very powerful conversation for me, especially as a woman in business. I feel like it would be easy to say, “Well, no one’s ever going to take a chance on me ever again. So I might as well take this opportunity when it comes.” But I believe in myself way more than that. I know that I’m good at my job, and to not be desperate is a very powerful position to be in if you’re lucky enough to be there. I feel that way about my business. It’ll always be there to fall back on and that gives me peace and space to be intentional about what comes next.