Jennifer Estevez of OMvino: “A commonplace but not so common strategy would be to just pay attention”

A commonplace but not so common strategy would be to just pay attention. Many leaders aren’t present. You need to be present with your employees and your company because your time and attention are really all you have. You won’t realize when your culture is becoming unhealthy or “off-brand” if you aren’t paying attention. As […]

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A commonplace but not so common strategy would be to just pay attention. Many leaders aren’t present. You need to be present with your employees and your company because your time and attention are really all you have. You won’t realize when your culture is becoming unhealthy or “off-brand” if you aren’t paying attention.

As a part of my series about the “5 Ways That Businesses Can Help Promote The Mental Wellness Of Their Employees” I had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Estevez.

Jennifer is an auto-didact who turned her love for wine into a career as a sommelier that enabled her to travel the world. After discovering a huge knowledge gap between those people who understand fine hospitality and the communications being done around it, Jennifer established her own company to nurture other driven, self-sufficient food and drinks professionals as they pivoted to living a digitally nomadic lifestyle. As Jennifer has always forged her own path, rather than working for others in established companies and being promoted up the career ladder, she has a unique take on shouldering responsibility without knowing what to expect.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive into our discussion, 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?

I started off working in the wine industry as a sommelier, both in sales and as a consultant. Wine was my passion and I sat my Master Sommelier Exam twice. I started my business after consulting on many restaurants and private cellars. I realized that there was a need for marketing and communications companies in the food and beverage industry run by professionals who understood food and beverage specifically in the luxury market. I then dove into business and startup work.

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

When I started the company one of our first clients was a budding vodka brand. Their CEO was VERY intense and would call at all hours of the day over little things. One of my most memorable moments was accidentally picking up a call at 2 a.m. PST while I was in Iceland on a weekend vacation driving through glaciers. I was driving a stick shift, navigating rugged terrain and listening to his detailed concerns about social media. I realized at that moment I needed to set better boundaries with clients.

What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?

Take at LEAST one hour a day for yourself every day. No excuses. I try to do a combination of meditation, journaling, breathwork and yoga daily on top of spending time in nature, hiking as much as I can.

Take care of yourself. Your health and your body are the only things you are stuck with your whole life. Treat them well.

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

Listen to your people, and always stay in the mindset that you are both a teacher and a student within your company, especially as an executive. We close our minds sometimes and we lose out on opportunities to support others when we could be listening to them and learning from them. This helps your team stay engaged and feel valued which is really the cornerstone to success. Giving positive feedback is also equally as important as constructive feedback. Both need to be given regularly and properly so that there is an open door for it to be given in return.

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

“What you seek, is seeking you.” Whatever you need will come around to you if you are looking for it. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want and need from yourself, from others or from the world. I would not be where I am in business or in life if I did not chase my dreams and aspirations. Some of them didn’t work out but I took those as things that were not meant for me. It’s ok.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. As you know, the collective mental health of our country is facing extreme pressure. In recent years many companies have begun offering mental health programs for their employees. For the sake of inspiring others, we would love to hear about five steps or initiatives that companies have taken to help improve or optimize their employee’s mental wellness. Can you please share a story or example for each?

At OMvino we highly recommend all employees take two full weeks off, or one month working part-time, per year, to pursue a certification or personal goal. Employees are welcome to work from anywhere, including destinations abroad. For example, I took time off to go to India and work part-time for a month to pursue my advanced yoga teacher certification. My business partners covered me, and I had the most life-changing experience. I then covered for one of my business partners as she sat for her master sommelier exam.

These ideas are wonderful, but sadly they are not yet commonplace. What strategies would you suggest to raise awareness about the importance of supporting the mental wellness of employees?

A commonplace but not so common strategy would be to just pay attention. Many leaders aren’t present. You need to be present with your employees and your company because your time and attention are really all you have. You won’t realize when your culture is becoming unhealthy or “off-brand” if you aren’t paying attention.

From your experience or research, what are different steps that each of us as individuals, as a community and as a society, can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling stressed, depressed, anxious and having other mental health issues? Can you explain?

Ask questions, and listen. So many people ask questions and aren’t really listening, just waiting for their turn to speak. When it comes to mental wellness, you really have to be prepared to listen without judgment. You don’t need to offer advice. You don’t need to have an opinion. Sometimes you just need to be there. We are all connected, we should care about other people’s pain or stress. Not to the point that we can’t hold space for ourselves to also be peaceful, but to the degree that we are thinking of others and being in service to others, no matter who we are.

Habits can play a huge role in mental wellness. What are the best strategies you would suggest to develop good healthy habits for optimal mental wellness that can replace any poor habits?

Rest well, meditate, eat good food, do yoga, do breathwork and care for your body. I cannot stress this enough. Sometimes we all get off track, but when you do, you need to get right back up and correct the situation. Your body being healthy and well will always cause your mind to follow. Nurture yourself. Put good things into your body; everything you consume is important. We consume knowledge, information and energy. Read and learn more, never get into the mindset that you know it all. Don’t spend time with people who drain your energy. The people you surround yourself with and how they live their life impact you. Don’t be afraid to say goodbye to people who don’t nurture you and support you in the way that you need. Take up space, raise your voice and honor your needs.

Do you use any meditation, breathing or mind-calming practices that promote your mental wellbeing? We’d love to hear about all of them. How have they impacted your own life?

I do this everyday! These practices impact me tremendously and my continued use of them really determines how I react to the world around me. I try to do at least 15 minutes of meditation and 15 minutes of breathwork a day, along with 15 minutes of journaling and general hygiene practices, such as taking a cold shower in the morning. I also usually do an hour of some sort of physical activity each day: yoga, hiking or martial arts. The hour that I spend in the morning, though, is the most important. It sets the tone for my day. I journal about what I want to accomplish. I meditate on different intentions and process how I am feeling that way. This helps me to react more thoughtfully to the world and to show up better for myself and others.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?

The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership really impacted me. I changed my life after reading that book and I like to revisit it. It talks a lot about how to hold yourself more accountable for your emotions and actions. When I feel challenged by a situation in work or in life, I like to take a moment now and just sit with it. I think about where it’s coming from and where I feel it in my body, how this challenge is impacting me, and why.

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. 🙂

If everyone took one month for themselves for self-work and introspection once in their life, the world would be a different place. As humans we spend so much time externally, working, living, and really just surviving sometimes, that we don’t forget to go inward and be introspective. We forget to nurture ourselves sometimes and be kind to ourselves in the way we are to others. I learned a lot about that when I took a month and a half to go and live in India and do my advanced yoga teacher training. My business partners had my back and I only worked the bare minimum that I needed to keep things moving. I just took time to think and breathe. I connected with my body and mind in a way that I never had before and it changed how I looked at the world.

What is the best way our readers can further follow your work online?

Follow me on Instagram and Clubhouse @theyoginitigress, or at www.omvino.com

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

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