Maybe you know who she is but if you don’t Jenna is a “small town Minnesota mama who took a $300 camera, grew a successful photo biz and now she works from home and runs a seven figure online business.”
I’m waiting for her tag line to include “oh, and I wrote a book that is going to help people improve their lives and focus on what’s really important.”
I have followed Jenna for a long time. Even through my 18 month social media hiatus I would check in on what she was up to. Her posts, podcast, courses and now book inspire me to no end. Plus the podcast especially is full of practical tips for entrepreneurship.
I don’t think that all passions in your life should be boxed up and sold. I used to and it tripped me up. My career past is littered with hobbies-that-might-make-money endeavors. I’d argue that even blogging is one of those. My passion, however, is in the putting of pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and story telling. Learning something new. Sharing valuable information. Same with my embroidery. Yes the finished pieces are beautiful but the joy for me is in the process of creating them.
The work world looks different than when our parents grew up. Heck, it’s way different than when we grew up! We can side hustle, we can be influencers, we can drive people around or grocery shop for them. There truly is no right or wrong!
My entrepreneurial journey was started for me when I was fired from a job. I went to apply for unemployment and because I had started the job with my maiden name I was going to have to produce all sorts of extra documentation to collect it and I decided that wasn’t worth the time and effort. I immediately added “coaching” to my blog and I began to meet with bloggers to nail down their voice and help with their content plans. Then I started thinking “what can I sell” and the jewelry, handbag, customized mug gigs started. Then Windy City Bloggers grew and grew and I focused my energy there.
All of these ultimately failed because I put the commodity ahead of the connection. The last one would have kept going if taking care of a baby 24-7 didn’t totally drain my mental capacity.
I decided to hang up my hat and become a full-time parent. It took 5 years but a year ago I decided to come back to the working-outside-the-home world with my focus on why.
Finding roles that come from a place of passion instead of a place of profit.
Why is writing website copy a passion of mine?
Because I admire people who are working to build a business and want to help them effectively tell their story.
Why is selling Beautycounter a passion of mine?
Because a skincare routine changed my life and I want to be a part of life-giving self care for others.
I want to help people do what they do, better.
But not at the expense of my days, nights and weekends. I like spending time on embroidery. Or reading historical romance fiction. Gardening. I still have young children. I have a husband. Social selling means the lines are blurred between business and personal. On one hand, this makes our connection to clients all the stronger and can in fact sway a client to choose you over a competitor. On the other, it can feel like your life is nothing but social content.
Jenna has 1M Instagram followers. She mixes personal and business everywhere. She doesn’t shy away from the difficulties of it. I wish the book addressed some of the “mom guilt” that we all inevitably feel… maybe that’ll be her next book. Even without going into the tumultuous details of her daily life Jenna shares her light bulb moments and her method of slowly going after what she wants. I have a feeling she’s always starting something new.
I have a lot of entrepreneurs in my circle. Business owners, side hustlers, gig workers; we’re all the same. We are figuring out how to add purpose or add income to our lives. Jenna’s stories and questions in How Are You, Really? forces us to look into our cores and assess if we are honoring ourselves and our values with the decisions that we make day-to-day.
It can be an incredibly difficult thing to do. To live by your values. First the values have to be defined! After that actions need to be aligned. Dreams don’t become reality overnight. Habits take time to change and develop. Looking back on my personal journey, it has been 8 years in the making and I’m learning to redefine what my “I’ve made it” actually looks like.
You don’t have to predict the future to play big in the present.Jenna Kutcher
My “made it” used to be a certain income level and client roster. Those are still a part of the mix; I’m learning to set goals around both my feelings and my metrics. The feelings are the answers I solidified as I read How Are You, Really?. When Jenna describes the disconnect with what she had and what she wants she shares is this;
you can count your blessings, acknowledge the good in your life, recognize the gift of it all, while simultaneously counting on those blessings to drive you just a little bit crazy, especially when they aren’t totally aligned with what you really want.Jenna Kutcher
Throughout this book I kept being reminded that while I am hashtag blessed in almost countless ways it was OK that I wanted more. That I wanted a change. I defined my values for my work and came up the things I would look for in my opportunities.
I do not like being told what to do. (And, no surprise, my kids have inherited this trait.) I value autonomy in my business because I am a highly intuitive person and I trust my gut way more than I trust the “rules” of business.
I have chosen the jobs I have now because they offer immense autonomy. With EMB MKT I have the opportunity to work with my clients to set the deadlines. I get to write when the inspiration is highest. I get to choose how many clients I have at any given time. With Beautycounter I, again, get to choose when I work each day (not if… that’s important to make clear) and what I will spend my time and energy on that day.
Dan remembers that his career assessment said he’d excel at being a Ferry Boat Captain or a Vending Machine Repair Man. I don’t remember what mine said… probably because I said to myself “you can’t tell me what to do” when the results came back.
It’s gotta be bigger than me. If I don’t feel like I am serving others or improving their lives with my interaction or input then I’m not going to be into it long term. Selling Beautycounter products helps me bring that element of self care through clean products to my network. Using my joy of writing to craft website and newsletter content for clients to help them tell their story and help their clients get to know them on a deeper level puts purpose into each word.
I am unashamed of needing to find fun in everything I do. I am driven by laughter and silliness and not taking anything too seriously. Maybe I watched Mary Poppins too much as a kid but I firmly believe that “in every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and snap! The job’s a game!” (text me if you continued to sing that song because we need to be bffs)
It is immensely fun to talk skincare and makeup with women and to learn more about them in the process. When writing I find the process of getting to know the client and their story energizing and… well… fun.
If I’m not learning new things I’m going to get bored quickly. I know this about myself. New endeavors are exciting and I channel that energy into the work. Beautycounter has provided the opportunity to learn about skincare, sustainability, mindset, clean living and time management skills. I learn about each new writing client and I study writing techniques and trends.
Regardless of what work you do or what activities fill your days, Jenna challenges you with this: you can’t know where you are going until you know where you are. Start by asking yourself How Are You, Really? (and picking up a copy of the book).