How I Thrive: “Taking the time to talk to my parents is super important to me” With Ming Zhao & Katie Jenison

It’s not necessarily a routine, but taking the time to talk to my parents is super important to me. I moved to a new city about two years ago, and we live about three hours apart now, so I don’t get to see them as often as I used to. I’m a pretty anxious person […]

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It’s not necessarily a routine, but taking the time to talk to my parents is super important to me. I moved to a new city about two years ago, and we live about three hours apart now, so I don’t get to see them as often as I used to. I’m a pretty anxious person and checking in with them, whether it’s a phone call or text, always makes me feel better. My dad will sometimes call me when he’s babysitting my nephews so they can say hi, which never hurts either!

At times it feels like wellness or elevating one’s wellbeing, is diametrically opposed to high achievement and high performance in one’s career. The stress, mental energy, long hours, lack of restful sleep, preoccupation that result from a high-achievement life seem to directly inhibit wellness. And yet, in order to sustain the creativity, flexibility, mental acuity and resilience that are necessary for high performance, wellness and wellbeing of the mind, body and soul are also mandatory. So how do we achieve both? This is the question I’m hoping to answer through conversations with high-achieving women who have gleaned and are practicing their own philosophies on maintaining their wellbeing.

As a part of this series about what successful women leaders do to thrive, both personally and professionally, I had the pleasure of interviewing Katie Jenison.

Katie Jenison is a freelance copywriter and content marketing strategist with a Bachelor of Science degree in English Studies from North Dakota State University. She specializes in writing content for the home building and remodeling industry, though she has clients in a diverse range of industries, including manufacturing, finance, and marketing. When she’s not working, you can often find her relaxing with a book and a cup of coffee (or wine) in hand.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path and to where you are today?

Iwas just about to graduate from college, and was thinking about starting a side hustle but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I brainstormed a few ideas but nothing stood out or stuck with me until a few weeks before graduation when it dawned on me that I was about to graduate with a degree in English Studies. I’ve always loved to write, and I’d had some nonfiction essays published in NDSU’s literary journal. So, I started doing some research on freelance writing, and it took off from there. Starting out was a little rocky, but after about six months, I really hit my stride and started thinking about freelance writing as a long-term career option. Eventually, I was able to quit my day job and freelance full-time.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

There have been a lot of fun and interesting things that have happened since I started freelancing. I was able to take a last-minute trip to Belgium last summer with a friend, which was absolutely amazing. We spent the first leg of the trip in Bruges and the second half in Brussels. That was my first time taking a trip out of the country, and I’m so grateful that I had the freedom and control over my schedule to make it work.

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

It wasn’t so funny at the time, but now I can look back on it and laugh. About 2 years ago, I had a call with a potential client that I wasn’t fully prepared for. Usually, I’ll do a little research on their business beforehand, but for whatever reason, I ran out of time. During the call, I asked about the clients they currently work with and have worked with in the past. While that’s not an unreasonable question, that was something I would have known if I had done my research because all of that was in the portfolio section of their website. As she explained where I could find that information, I could tell she wasn’t impressed with my lack of preparation, and we didn’t end up working together. It was really embarrassing at the time, but I learned from the experience, and now I make sure to leave enough time to prepare before important calls.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture and work life?

As leaders, it’s up to us to inspire, support, and motivate other people, but we also need to listen. Everyone has different styles and needs, so one approach may not work for everyone. You have to be able to tailor your approach to those individual people while still conveying the “big picture” message. Once you know how to best connect with your team, audience, or clients on a one-on-one level, you can learn how to tailor your message to appeal to a broader scale of people. That connection also creates trust between you and the people you’re trying to reach, which will help you achieve the best results.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of our interview. In my work, I focus on how one can thrive in three areas, body, mind, and heart. I’d like to flesh this out with you. You are a very busy leader with a demanding schedule. Can you share with our readers two self care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body to thrive? Kindly share a story or an example for each.

1. Eating well is a big one! As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to recognize which foods make my body feel good and which ones don’t, and I do my best to eat foods that not only taste good but nourish and fuel my body. That being said, I can’t imagine a world where I didn’t eat french fries, so I try not to be too strict with my diet.

2. As a freelance writer, I spend a lot of time sitting at my desk, so I make an effort to get up and move as much as possible. Even if it’s just running downstairs to get a glass of water or standing up to stretch, I feel much better when I take a break to move my body.

Can you share with us two routines that you use to help your mind thrive? (Kindly share a story or example for each.)

1. Keeping my workspace organized: I cannot function when my workspace is a mess! Aside from multiple sticky notes all over my desk, I keep it as organized as possible. At the end of the day, I take a few minutes to tidy up so that the next day I can jump right in without getting distracted by the clutter.

2. Investing in my education: I love watching YouTube videos, reading articles, participating in challenges, or taking courses developed by experts in my industry or an industry that relates to my business. Whether that investment requires time or money, I feel like it’s a great way to grow as a business owner.

Finally, can you share with us two routines that use to help your heart, your emotional or spiritual life to thrive? (Kindly share a story or example for each.)

1. It’s not necessarily a routine, but taking the time to talk to my parents is super important to me. I moved to a new city about two years ago, and we live about three hours apart now, so I don’t get to see them as often as I used to. I’m a pretty anxious person and checking in with them, whether it’s a phone call or text, always makes me feel better. My dad will sometimes call me when he’s babysitting my nephews so they can say hi, which never hurts either!

2. Making time for myself: As a creative, I often have trouble turning my mind off, so I make time in the evenings and on the weekends to do things that relax me. Usually that’s reading or listening to a true-crime podcast. When the weather is nice, I like to be outside as much as I can and I’ll often start my day sitting on our patio, reading a book and drinking coffee.

When life is very busy, and you cannot stick with your ideal routine, are there any wellness practices, rituals, products or services for your mind, body, or soul that you absolutely cannot live without?

Stretching! I recently incorporated more stretching into my daily routine and it’s made such an improvement. I didn’t even realize there were so many stretches you could do before I started doing it every day.

All of us have great days and days that are not as great. On days when you feel like a rockstar what do you do? What does that day look like, and what did you do to get there?

My rockstar days are generally the ones where I get up early and start my day off with my morning routine, which looks a little something like this: workout, practice gratitude, and read from a personal development or business book for 30 minutes. When I do those things before anything else, I find it puts me in the right headspace for the day and helps to boost my productivity.

In contrast, on days when you feel down, what do you do?

Those are the days where I likely didn’t get enough sleep and wake up feeling tired and grouchy. Coffee usually helps, but it can be challenging to get in the right mindset, so I try to be patient with myself. I also remind myself that getting frustrated won’t fix things. If I can’t snap myself out of the funk I’m in, or I can’t seem to focus, I’ll usually take a break to clear my head. My favorite way to do that is to take a walk around the neighborhood, but since I live in the Midwest, that’s much less enjoyable in the winter! When the weather isn’t cooperating, I’ll either relax and listen to a podcast or watch something on YouTube that might spark my creativity.

Do you have a story about the weirdest, most bizarre or most humorous wellness experience, treatment, practice, or practitioner that you’ve ever partaken in? If you do, we’d love to hear it.

Okay, so this is going to seem a little silly, but when I need an extra confidence boost, I’ll channel my inner Wonder Woman and stand in a superhero stance for a minute or two. You know the one: legs apart, hands on your hips and head held high. I think psychologists call it open posture, but the science behind it suggests that adopting a superhero stance projects power. It also alters hormone production, so you feel more self-assured and less stressed. Like I said, it feels a little silly, but I swear when I do it I always feel a little more confident.

You’re a high achieving business leader, and you also have family and loved ones that may require a different side of you at home. How do you leave the executive at the door, and be the most loving caretaker at home?

I work from home, so that’s a lot trickier than it seems but there are a couple of things I do to help me transition from work to home life. The first is to regulate work to my office rather than working from the couch or kitchen table. When I’m done with work for the night, I can shut my office door and not think about it anymore. If I need a change of scenery, I’ll head to a local coffee shop for a few hours, which is always nice. The other thing I do is set a regular quitting time for the day. That way, I know when to start winding down a project and begin planning my schedule for the next day.

Is there a particular practitioner, expert, book, podcast or resource that made a significant impact on you and helped you to thrive? Can you share a story about that with us?

I read The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson for the first time a couple of years ago and it’s stuck with me. Throughout the book, Olson talks about how small decisions can lead to significant results, but we have to make those decisions consciously. Making the effort to do the things that others do not is what gives us an advantage. For example, Olson talks about reading for personal development. It’s something a lot of people want to do, but few actually achieve. He suggests committing to reading just 10 pages a day. Reading 10 pages a day is extremely manageable and requires much less effort than reading an entire book, but at the end of thirty days, that’s exactly what you’ve done. The book is chock full of great insights, and it’s one that I always recommend when people ask me what personal development book they should read next.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’m a big believer in practicing gratitude, which I think is something everyone can benefit from. Gratitude can have such a profound impact on your mindset, and it’s a daily practice that I’ve adopted over the last year or so. It’s a great reminder that although life can be messy and complicated, it’s still good — it’s all about perspective.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“Do it scared.”

I’m not sure where it originated from, but I first heard this quote from a fellow copywriter. I think the concept really resonated with me because I’m a pretty shy, quiet person, and being the center of attention has always made me uncomfortable. As a business owner and freelancer, that’s something that I’ve definitely had to get over. For my business to succeed, I constantly have to step outside of my comfort zone whether it’s pitching new clients, running a meeting, or putting myself out there on social media. It’s taught me that even though something is scary or uncomfortable, it doesn’t mean it’s bad. The payoff is often worth a few minutes of discomfort.

What are the best ways our readers can follow you on social media?

You can find me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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