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“Create a full life for yourself on your own terms”. With Powerhouse J. Kelly Hoey.

Women's Empowerment Series

Courtesy of J. Kelly Hoey

For my first feature on my Women’s Empowerment Series, I had the honor of interviewing the world famous, J. Kelly Hoey, Author, BUILD YOUR DREAM NETWORK: Forging Powerful Connections In A Hyper-Connected World. She has an amazing track record of success as an attorney, entrepreneur, investor, speaker, and author. Throughout her career trajectory, Hoey has pioneered for women interested in entrepreneurship and technology as the Co-founder of Women Innovate Mobile Accelerator, as one of the most notable VC/Investors, and as an inspiring speaker and strategist. She has been instrumental in my career-the results of her advice was always 100fold greater than what I could imagine.

Your career is so fascinating and inspiring. Tell us about your career trajectory?

My career started in law. When I graduated from law school in 1991, I expected a linear career progression up the corporate ladder. Clearly, that has not happened! I’ve practiced law at three major firms on both sides of the U.S. /Canada border. I’ve worked in management at another global firm. Lead a global business network for women, co-founded a startup accelerator program for female founders and now, written my first book. Building strong professional relationships across a variety of industries and sectors (along with an ongoing willingness to learn new skills and knowledge) are the only consistent themes I can find in my unfolding professional journey. 

What I have realized some 27 years later is building a strong career foundation is essential regardless of where you hope (or anticipate) your aspirations will take you.

I love your concept! Tell us all about Build Your Dream Network! What inspired you?

My desire to help others succeed. I paid attention to what information others were consistently seeking from me and rather than making yet another introduction or recommending a handful of random meetups, clubs or networking groups I decided to show people how to do it themselves (and build a network like mine or preferably better!). You’re likely familiar with the Chinese proverb “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. Truly, that is my inspiration for writing Build Your Dream Network.

How do you create work-life balance?

You love what you do and embrace it fully. When you do, there is no internal struggle. I love what I do and don’t feel the need to apologize for the time I spend “working”. 

I also take a longer view on balance (not daily or weekly). 

I pay attention to the work rhythm of my year – those weeks or months that are less hectic, and during that time I carve out “Kelly Time” – rarely taking appointments or meetings and prioritizing self-care (travel to see friends etc.).

Can you share some tips on how to cultivate it in our own lives?

Here’s what I would do:

(1) Pay attention to the demands of business or job and when your clients/customers need you. If they all escape to the beach in August or shut down operations on Friday afternoons, then that’s a good time to give yourself a break as well.

(2) Gain clarity on what opportunities to say yes to so you can quickly say no to all other distractions.

(3) Know what time of day you produce your best work and guard that time like a hawk! I like to write in the mornings so I rarely (if ever) take calls or meetings before noon.

How do you define relationship success? What’s the best advice you have for single women?

Very funny question to ask someone who has been married twice! Our self-worth is not defined by the success of someone else (father, husband, spouse, partner). 

Create a full life for yourself on your own terms.

Can you share tips on how to achieve it?

I’m learning every day and trying to figure it out too! Loving what I do and not feeling any need to apologize for my past choices (or present ones either) is where I’m at – and getting to this place in your own life is my best tip.

What advice would you offer to those interested in getting in the industry?

First, figure out why you’re interested in getting into a particular industry and really dive into what your underlying motivations are for choosing that industry (fame, money, helping others etc.)? Making a career choice may seem tough but pursuing something unwisely or without enthusiasm is a heck of a lot tougher. And read Build Your Dream Network! 

It is a roadmap on how to continuously fuel and meaningfully accelerate your career choices with the help of others.

Can you share tips on how to really get into the industry?

Read my book! Seriously! It is filled with practical, actionable insights for furthering your professional ambitions (whether that is changing jobs, an encore career, moving up the corporate ladder, building a consulting practice or crowdfunding a passion project). 

My precise career path may not be replicable but the actions I take daily are – and I suspect applying them to your own goals will take you further than you’ve ever imagined possible. 

If writing or becoming a published author is your ambition then I’d suggest reading “On Writing” by Stephen King. Actually, I’d recommend anyone read that book. It is the “why” as much as the how he approaches his craft. To want to pursue something (your craft) every day with the same commitment as Stephen King approaches writing would be pretty damn remarkable.

What are your dream goals?

Helping others succeed is my top goal, always and drives my business decisions. Becoming a best-selling author with Build Your Dream Network and publishing another book are close second and third goals.

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