So, Jenny, tell me: how did you become a speaker and a leadership coach? How long have you been doing this?
I’m so glad you asked! My story starts when I became principal of a K-5 school at 26. Though I had all the outer markers of success (think: a doctorate in education and teaching awards), nothing could have prepared me for that position. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful for it but the reality was that I was constantly overwhelmed with problems like upset parents and angry colleagues–normal problems for a job like that. Because every day was filled with struggle and exhaustion trying to meet the demands of the job, I got depressed and frustrated. I went into the profession to make a difference and I was getting stomped on everyday. I didn’t have a dream team around me (Carl Jung’s version).
After five years of this, I pivoted to a consultancy role. I primarily helped Title I schools implement Social Emotional Learning (SEL) strategies to achieve results like huge achievement gains, higher attendance rates, and lower disciplinary rates. I also helped corporations like Target and Lifetouch Pictures achieve similar results–I taught their training and development teams Emotional Intelligence (EQ) strategies to better retain top talent. I did this for two decades…and then burnout caught up with me.
Because here’s the thing…changing positions didn’t stop me from overworking and running around the world while also raising three kids. In 2017, breast cancer stopped me in my tracks. A rough time followed–but, fighting and beating cancer woke me up to the fact that I couldn’t just keep living the way I had been. I had to fiercely prioritize my own health and my boundaries. I also started prioritizing my gratitude practice, which helped me find my way out of some bleak days.
I am now a fierce believer that leaders can excel at their positions in a way that allows them to take care of their own well-being too. I set leadership teams up for success by teaching them data-based SEL and EQ strategies so that they can make the difference they went into their careers for MINUS all the struggle, exhaustion, and burnout. (This means we work on boundaries, margin in your day, asking for what you need, and not settling for mediocre, conditional friendships and relationships. We really dig into the narratives you tell yourself and your mindset, and get you a new fresh start on life, which feels absolutely amazing.)