Change your work area — Even though I have a home office, I constantly change my work area. I move from the couch to the dining table and back to my office. I find that this change stops me from getting too comfortable and spinning my wheels. Sometimes creatives actually need change to be able to focus.
As a part of our series about “How Anyone Can Build Habits For Optimal Wellness, Performance, & Focus”, I had the pleasure of interviewingJo Janzen.
Jo Janzen has been a self-employed road Musician for the better part of the last 20 years of her life. Before making the full-time switch to a living life that she loved in Music, she gained a Bachelor of Business (Information Technology) and worked as a Programmer/Business Analyst. After making the switch along with playing music, writing songs, recording, promoting to radio and honing her craft she also widened her studies by gaining a Music Business Specialist certificate from Berklee College of Music Online. Recently she has also become well-known as a life coach who specialises in working with Musicians and other creatives. She has been described as the most extroverted introvert you’ll ever meet and considers herself a most terrible employee but an incredibly motivated self-made entrepreneur. As someone who has always preferred to live life on her own terms and definitely outside of the box, she now lives to show others how to do the same. Her successful coaching practice has now given rise to many artist careers and helped already situated artists to continue to sustain a career in the industry. She does this by guiding her clients on how to instill new thought patterns, helping them to create amazing daily habits, and identify with brand new incredible self beliefs wrapped in possibilities instead of limitations.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
Thank you for inviting me to be interviewed! I was actually born and raised in a small sugar cane farming community in North Queensland, Australia. And despite being involved in a lot of competitive sports, as most Aussies are, I was an incredibly shy child.
Because of my intense fear of being in front of anyone, an English teacher suggested to my Mum that I be put into the Theatre/Drama program in Grade 8. My Mum signed me up immediately, no questions asked and no excuses taken, and I’m glad she did! From then on it was a very different world for me, I slowly but surely found myself at home on a stage and realized that I had a talent for singing. My father was the lead singer and rhythm guitar player in a band and had toured a lot when I was little so I had grown up in and around the local music scene.
After high school I put myself through University and soon after went to work at climbing the corporate ladder in Information Technology as a Programmer/Analyst. After only two years into it I felt completely drained and depressed, I knew I was meant for music and time was ticking away, so I began to pursue my career in music. I wound up traveling the world in a musical stage show where I met my husband who is Canadian.
Fast forward 20 years and I can definitely say that together we’ve mastered living life on our own terms. That’s why I have a deep passion for coaching other creatives today to do the same. I see them going through the process and it makes me so incredibly happy to bring that transformation to someone else’s world.
I now live in Canada with my amazing hubby, we have two teenage girls. I run my own coaching corporation full-time, and I still play music part-time for both income and pure creative enjoyment.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
It was having my kids that inspired me to go completely full-time into music. And later my two daughters, now teenagers, would also become my inspiration to go into life coaching. I watched them excel and struggle at times with mental blocks involved in competition sports and I started coaching them on mindset and visualization and it was helping them tremendously.
I remember having a conversation with a producer when I first started out and saying that I wanted to show my daughters that anything is possible. I wanted to not only tell them to be their own person and to do what they love, but to actually lead the way on doing that.
I also couldn’t stand the thought that one day I would have to tell my children that I gave up my dreams because “Mum’s don’t play music”, or “Mum’s don’t own corporations” or anything of that nature. That kind of regret seemed heartbreaking to me and I couldn’t live with that outcome. I’d rather have tried and failed than not try at all.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
I’ve been lucky enough to have some great mentors throughout this journey, but the number one person who has definitely been my constant source of encouragement is my husband, Jeff. He’s been on this entire journey with me, we recently celebrated our 20th anniversary.
At times early in the process when I didn’t believe in my own abilities, he held space for me and let me know how much he believed that I could in fact do it, if I just believed in myself. Let me tell you, it ain’t easy being married to a Musician, that man needs a medal. There were times when he would be single parenting and working his busy career full-time while I was on the road. His nurturing of our children is what kept me going so long, I knew that our kids were being cared for in the most incredible way, by the most incredible man at home. As a Mum this is everything, it allowed me to continue putting one foot in front of the other on the tough days.
When I started my coaching business a few years ago, there was never any question from him, he just said “if anyone can do it, you can”. I’ve always been blessed with his total love and support.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
My biggest work mistake was actually before I went into music and coaching. I was a Programmer for a large mining company in Australia and I was working on an automated script that would run late at night behind the scenes. It would make a backup of the production database and then wipe the production database clean for the new day to begin.
I finished writing my script, even tested it and then put it into production to run at precisely mid-night. At precisely mid-night I got a frantic call from our network administrator who informed me that my script was in fact running and wiping the entire production database as planned, however it had failed to make a copy of the database beforehand. I had accidently taken out one word from the script that caused it to fail at copying. A ROOKIE mistake.
I reported to my manager’s office at 8am, I thought for sure he was firing me.
Instead he handed me a white board marker and said “I don’t want you to leave this office until you come up with a script that checks itself for failures.” Hours later I had succeeded in finding a solution.
This was a huge learning moment for me, I learned first hand the ability to take full accountability for my mistakes, and how to face my fears and find solutions even under the most stressful circumstances.
The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?
Get a COACH! I’m not just saying that because I am one. In the beginning I tried to learn and do everything myself, it was only once I enlisted a coach that things really took off. Having accountability to someone, being reminded that follow through is so very important and having someone who can see your mental patterning before you can is so powerful and changing.
Making a definite commitment to yourself is also KEY! As humans we often feel so obliged to commit to everyone else’s dreams and think that disappointing ourselves is okay and better than disappointing others. I will always make the commitment first and foremost to myself. With my clients I see the most incredible results from people who make this mental commitment to themselves. What comes is then your ability to help others because you’ve learned to master your own thoughts.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
“The Art of Living” — Bob Proctor & Sandra Gallagher
As someone who grew up with very little material possessions I have always understood the immense value of reading. I read between 12 and 15 books a year.
I received this book from a friend and fellow artist who I later went onto coach.
He was reading it and loving it and gifted me a copy through amazon, it turned up on my doorstep days later.
The content in this book hit me just at the right time in my life and journey. It was Bob’s book that first made me understand that I needed to shift my thoughts, beliefs, and identity to become successful. His magic graphic explaining how the subconscious and conscious mind work alongside our feelings, actions and results really hit home with me. As I read it, it turned on so many lights and I immediately understood what I needed to do and went about doing it.
I have since paid it forward and gifted it to many friends and clients.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
Two quotes have actually formed the cornerstone of my beliefs “I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul” — William Ernest Henley (Invictus).
And “The miracle you’ve been waiting for is YOU”. I don’t know if I created that quote or heard it somewhere. What I do know is how accurate it rings true to me. We often spend so much time waiting for that big opportunity, that discovery, that secret formula and what we don’t realize is that we already possess everything we need to be everything we want right now.
It’s within you, you have to trust that you are in fact the miracle you’ve been waiting for all along. Every time I get off track and my faith starts to slide, I go back to these two quotes and remind myself that it’s my own thoughts and actions that will decide my future, it doesn’t matter what the current circumstance is.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
I’m working on a new coaching program right now that will include more tools and resources than ever to help Musicians on the business side, which is very exciting. The music industry and artists have been through so much pre and post covid and we need new age approaches to business.
We need the ability to pivot quickly and change our business model to adapt during unforseen times. We can no longer survive on the same old models we’ve been running for years. I’m so excited to launch it, I know it’s needed for many to continue in our industry right now. I’m completely obsessed with bringing knowledge to those who are willing to go for it to do what they love and be a light in this world.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to create good habits? Can you share a story or give some examples?
Anything positive for you, if done consistently, will work.
Anything negative for you, if done consistently, will work against you.
I liken habits to compound interest, that can either work for you or against you.
Bad habits are like interest accumulating on a loan or credit card at a high rate daily and reaching back to the first day you began the loan, making the loan bigger and bigger over time and never ending.
Good Habits are like interest accumulating on an investment that you continue to add to little by little day by day and reaching back to the day you first started investing, making your savings bigger and bigger overtime and constantly growing.
This is why it’s so important to accumulate habits that grow interest on the good side of life.
How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?
The adoption of a set of morning habits has been the most helpful thing I have ever done to increase my success and overall wellness. As many days as possible, I try to complete the following set of morning habits in this order. Mental gratitude, coffee and the creation and prioritization of my to do list for the day, finished off with 1hr of transcendental meditation before my work day begins.
This has increased my productivity, focus, and overall happiness immensely. I often spend more time creating wellness than I do working in a day. I do this so that when it comes to the work I know that I’m working smarter, more focused, with more priorities in mind and with much more intention and purpose than ever before, this always brings bigger results in a much shorter period of work time.
Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?
Developing new good habits all about identity.
If you want to create great new habits you’ll need to ask yourself who you need to become in order to achieve your current life and business goals?
Likewise, successfully quitting bad habits is a function of changing identity also.
I learned this for myself 20 years ago after my 7th attempt at quitting smoking. I realized to be successful at quitting it would take a change of who I wanted to become and the shedding of that current piece of my identity that loved rebellion so much. It was only then that I finally succeeded at becoming a non-smoker. Now I can’t even identify with that part of my personality anymore. I had to first become a non-smoker in my mind in order to quit, because identity is stronger than habit.
Let’s talk about creating good habits in three areas, Wellness, Performance, and Focus. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum wellness. Please share a story or example for each.
For me optimal wellness refers to feeling fit and healthy in body, mind and spirit. Here are my three top habits for optimum wellness.
- Self-Development; Many people report feeling invigorated by learning something new that sparks their interest, creating happiness hormones like dopamine from things that are healthy. Either learning about yourself and developing yourself mentally or learning about something that energizes you like a new hobby or interest. Our brains are meant to be exercised as much as our bodies are in a positive way and when we are firing our brain we often feel like we are operating at a better rate.
- Healthy Eating; it goes without saying but I guarantee one of the first things to go out the door with a busy and over scheduled lifestyle is consistent healthy eating. What you fuel your body with is one of the most important lifestyle choices you can make.
- Exercise Your Mind and Body; Most people think that exercise is purely for weight loss, but that couldn’t be further from the truth, exercise is for heart and muscle health and overall wellness. You don’t have to work out like a mad person, a 30 min walk each day is enough to keep you moving and healthy. Exercise your spiritual mind also with meditation or breathing exercises. You don’t have to be good at meditation to have positive results with it, just get started.
Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?
Getting a coach or mentor is the best thing you can do for your self-development. When it comes to eating healthy, I find that meal prepping works if you have the time once a week to do so. I also find that having a list of healthier fast food options ahead of time is the best plan when it comes to choosing more nutritious meals from restaurants or chain food places. If I’m left to make the decision quickly and in the moment without any intentional thought process, I’ll almost always choose from my emotional brain, and it will be burger and fries or some kind of comfort food.
For exercise and meditation to stick, most people have to make them non-negotiable, they have to become part of your uninterrupted daily routine, that’s why mornings are usually best for most people.
Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal performance at work or sport? Please share a story or example for each.
- Follow Through & Follow Up — The habit of following up and following through is by far the greatest habit that all of my clients report having success because of. 80% of results in life and business come from the ability to follow through and follow up on prior tasks, contacts and connections.
- Visualizations — When you can hold a clear vision of what you want in your mind and couple it together with a positive emotion you attract that into your world.
- Commitment to the process not the results — In order to get results you must focus on the process not what you want the results to be. If you only focus on the results you will be extremely frustrated when those results don’t show up the way you want them to or in the timeframe you want them to. E.g. if you want to lose weight don’t focus on the scale, focus on the process of eating healthy and exercising daily and the scale will follow. The scale will almost always waiver up and down and confuse and frustrate you, and the progress isn’t a straight line, it’s a jagged line that eventually gets to the end goal based on committing to the process.
Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?
I think the key to all of these habits is awareness. If you are aware going into a project that focusing on a result isn’t optimal and that focusing in the process is important you won’t get so down when the result doesn’t hit immediately and will continue the process. If you are aware of a past where you haven’t been disciplined at following through and following up then you are most likely to change it.
Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal focus? Please share a story or example for each.
- 2 big tasks per week — What!?! Many people raise their eyebrows at this one, but I have proven it to work personally and for many of my clients. Overwhelm is one of the biggest reasons that people procrastinate, if we overwhelm our to do list every day we rarely ever get it all done. When you focus down on two tasks it takes the overwhelm out and allows you to get a positive feedback loop of task completion that the brain’s reward system requires to continue habits daily.
- Using Small Blocks of Work Time — Pomodoros — Many of my clients have completed big projects very effectively this way. The pomodoro technique involves breaking work times down into 25–30 min blocks and setting a timer. Working really focused for that time and then taking a 5–10 min break and coming back for another 25–30 block.
- Change your work area — Even though I have a home office, I constantly change my work area. I move from the couch to the dining table and back to my office. I find that this change stops me from getting too comfortable and spinning my wheels. Sometimes creatives actually need change to be able to focus.
Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?
Getting organized really helps with focus. I google calendar everything and spend a bit of time each week de-cluttering my work space. This means I know exactly what I need to focus on and when and I know where to find everything. It helps me to be prepared ahead of time for coaching sessions, interviews, podcasts taping and admin work.
Turning off outside distractions also allows to me focus down on the task at hand and knock it out in a good time frame.
As a leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?
Such a great feeling being in a coaching session and watching the lightbulb moments happen for a client because you’ve understood the flow and what needed to come next in the conversation.
For me this state of flow most commonly happens when you are REALLY listening to what is being said. My best coaching sessions are the ones where I do more listening than talking and what I have to say hits home hard and effectively for the client. There is nothing more rewarding than that feeling.
So if things feel really forced and resistant, sit back and listen, listen to yourself, your thoughts, your client, your customer and you’ll learn so much and be guided in the right direction.
Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I think I would call it the Meant4More movement. This would be the ability to inspire not only musicians but anyone who has a dream to follow it confidently. So many people out there are living a life that depresses them, that makes them feel trapped, while they know that they are meant for more. I would want to focus that movement on working with people who come from low-income families and show them how to break free of the cycle of poverty. I think when I was younger I thought that only people with money could pursue their dreams, I’m living proof that you can create what you want to, no matter what your circumstance is.
We all have the ability to break free, but we all also need to have guidance, mentors, be constantly learning, and evolving and above all a whole lot of courage to work through fears and beliefs that keep us stuck.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
Bob Proctor, I love the way he has lived life and changed his circumstances and then helped so many others to do the same. He doesn’t seem like someone who will say just what you want to hear, he’ll give me honest and amazing advice. I would just want to thank him for giving me direction early on in my career.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.