Buckle up and get ready to do the inner work.
You’ll cry more than you could have imagined. You’ll question your purpose and worth. You’ll walk away from friendships, leave toxic situations, and get really good at learning when to say no. You’ll have to practice boundaries. You’ll most likely need to forgive people from your past and work on understanding that your parents did the best they could with what they had. You’ll learn to shift from victim to taking responsibility. I’ve been “doing the inner work” for almost two decades, but entrepreneurship is a different beast. I’ve had the opportunity over the last few years to squash limiting beliefs, heal past trauma, journal through old money stories that were passed down, and reflect on why I seem to always get into certain situations. I believe that the gaps, holes, leaks, and challenges you see in your business are actually just a reflection of those happening inside of you, and what a beautiful chance to work through them.
As part of our series called “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Began Leading My Company”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jessica Glazer.
A former celebrity personal trainer and elementary school teacher, Jess turned her once “cute side hustle” into a multi-million dollar business in 2 years.
Since leaving her teaching job in 2017 she has hired a team of incredible heart-centered leaders, served hundreds of clients, helped create over 6 million dollars in revenue for those clients (in under 2 years), and is committed to helping 100 entrepreneurs create 7-figured impact-driven businesses.
As a result of donation/awareness, she and her husband are building a school in Ghana with Pencils of Promise.
She’s been featured in Forbes, Yahoo Finance, The Today Show, Good Day New York, The New York Post, Shape Magazine, Well + Good.
Her mission is to cause a ripple effect and inspire change for generations to come; making a massive impact and leaving a lasting legacy beyond her singular actions.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I never had the intention of starting my own business, let alone a company. I’ve also lived multiple career lives and never would have believed you if you told me I’d be here. Let’s take a look:
– I became a personal trainer the day I turned 17 and for the last 17.5 years trained clients both in-person and online. I went to college for my Doctorate of Physical Therapy and dropped out during graduate school.
– I then worked full-time as a personal trainer while attending fashion school and interning for companies like Jordache, Heidi Klum, and US Polo
– After 1 year in fashion, I decided to take my back up plan job as an elementary school physical education/health teacher
– I taught for 8 years while working as a trainer on nights/weekends and relentlessly trying to make my cute side hustle of online coaching/blogging/community-building work
– In 2017, I decided to leave my secure teaching job for another stint of full-time personal training while giving myself space to go all-in on entrepreneurship
– I quickly grew my cute side hustle into a multiple 6-figure businesses in less than 6 months
– My personal trainer friends saw my success and began asking me how so I just started teaching 1 friend, then 2, then 3 and the next thing you knew; I had become a business coach
Once I realized my ability to teach, the bulletproof method I had created, the lives that were changing, and my passion for teaching being so aligned with my purpose; I let go of training clients, stepped up my business coaching, began hiring help, and zoomed the vision out for what it could turn into. After two years, hundreds of clients, tons of mistakes, lots of feedback, and insane client results, the DBE+ was born!
What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
This is really a two-part answer for me. The first “ah-ha” moment was in the Fall of 2016 right before I decided to leave my comfortable, secure job as an elementary school teacher. I was listening to a podcast where the lady being interviewed was a teacher who had a jewelry business. On Etsy as her “side hustle”. The man interviewing her asked, “What if you gave yourself one year to go all-in on your jewelry business and it didn’t work…what would be the worst-case scenario?” She responded, “Well, I would most likely go back to the teacher, maybe in a different district; but, I’ve been a teacher for almost a decade and I could definitely get a job somewhere.” He responded with, “How does it feel to wake up every day and live in your worst-case scenario?” It was like a dagger through my heart, I pulled off the road, began. Sobbing crying, and text my husband letting him know that “I couldn’t do it anymore”. After 8 years as a teacher and building many. “cute side hustles”, I was so unfulfilled, unhappy, and stagnant. I was living in a partial version of my “worst-case scenario” and that was the most pivotal moment that that question changed the trajectory. Of my life.
As for this most recent pivot and decision to start this new company, well I’m not sure that there was an. “ah-ha” moment, but rather just a natural progression of things. We have a massive vision for our company and its impact. That vision can not be lived out through our current company framework and offerings. It requires us to step into a new level. When zooming out last year and looking at our lifestyle, business, and the impact we (my husband and I) decided it was time for me to step away from being the face of the brand and truly become the founder of it. This meant we would need to create a larger “umbrella brand” to house all of our current and future offerings. My once “crazy, stupid idea” of wanting to build a global education platform started to become a bit more possible. So, like all of our work/projects, we just began reverse-engineering the what/how/why/when/who and started chipping away. Now here we are less than a year later getting ready to launch our new company to the world!
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Of course, I’ve thought about giving up, more than once, honestly, sometimes it’s a weekly occurrence. I think all entrepreneurs struggle with this. As an entrepreneur, my job is solving problems. Without problems, I don’t really have a job or tasks. When problems are bigger than yourself, when life gets tangled into work, when clients aren’t happy, when you’re stepping into a new version of yourself, when you’re going through personal/company growing pains, when decisions are on the line that affects others…you’re going to feel it.
There have been days that I’ve wanted to throw in the towel simply because I’m exhausted. I’ve had negative client feedback that has made me want to quit. I’ve been sick over letting team members go and thinking I can’t handle being a boss. I’ve had “failed” launches that made me want to crawl under a table and hide. I’ve wanted to throw my phone deep into the ocean to never be found again to simply escape the pressure to show up and always “be on”. The examples and moments are endless, truly.
All that said, my purpose is bigger. My reason “why” always wins. Whenever I’m doubting myself or struggling, I just remind myself of why I’m doing this. No one forced me to be an entrepreneur. No one is making me launch courses at a certain time per year. No one is telling me when to wake up or go to bed. No one is making me bring home a certain income. All of these things are choices. I am choosing to create my own life. I choose to put pressure on myself. I chose to continuously grow myself and expand my impact. At the end of the day, it’s all about owning those choices and remembering that I GET to do this work, I don’t HAVE to.
So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
Things are great AND as an entrepreneur (even as a human) that can change in a moment’s time. Entrepreneurship is a roller coaster, not a merry-go-round. I live for the highs and can’t wait for the drops, but also know that the bottom dip feels like a lull. It’s momentary. It will pass. I GET to use the momentum from the bottom of the roller coaster to help me up the next hill. Again, this ride was a choice. I actively left my world as a teacher on the merry-go-round because the security, certainty, and routine was boring me and keeping me small.
We all have grit and resilience, but grit and resilience are also muscles; the more we use them, the stronger they get. I’m extremely grateful for all of the experiences in my life that have given me opportunities to flex those muscles. From battling a 10-year eating disorder, to having 2 ankle surgeries and being in a wheelchair for 24 weeks, to deaths and grief, and small things like being told “no”, going through difficult break ups, losing money, being talked about behind my back, the list goes on. These have all been gifts. They happened FOR me, not TO me. They have allowed me to practice resilience, compassion, and grace. No matter the challenge I’ve been faced with, I’ve always come out the other side stronger. Building a business is no different.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I believe we stand out for a few reasons. The first thing that comes to mind is our family-centric connection and how our clients are truly family. We have some of the most incredible community members and connections I have ever seen. We do not just offer programs and then move on to the next. Once you’re a part of our family, you’re. Stuck with us. Our customer experience from the moment they step into our company is like nothing to us. We send birthday cards, sympathy flowers, baby gifts, and recognition to our clients forever. Yes, years after working with us, we still celebrate them. We also have an incredible student directory, in-person meetups (all over the country), and a special alumni community to ensure everyone stays connected. Our staff is made up of graduates of our programs. We celebrate our clients daily. We share their stories, launches, wins, and programs with the world. In fact, one of the things I’m most excited about with our new company is the website portion where we advertise, celebrate, and showcase our client’s businesses and offerings!
Secondly, we stand out because we aren’t just talking about global impact, we are actively making a global impact. We follow a 1:1 giveback component where with every one student that enrolls to work with us (in any capacity) we donate for education to one student overseas for one year of school. That includes their books, school supplies, clean water, and more. This program has allowed us to not only help educate hundreds of students overseas, but we have actually raised/donated enough money that we have been physically building a school in Ghana, Africa. We got word last week that our school doors will officially open at the end of January and it will be home to over 576 students grades K- 6 and create/offer jobs to 947 locals. This is bigger than us. This is truly creating opportunities for education for people across the globe both digitally and in person.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
I’m not sure I believe in mistakes, I truly do believe everything is happening for us and that it’s a lesson. Looking back, there are things I may have messed up or been embarrassed about at the time, but I wouldn’t be here without those things.
If I had to pinpoint some of those moments, it would probably be just learning how to talk to people. In 2013 I was building my side hustle and I had partnered with a network marketing company where I began cold calling people to try and sell them into my programs. It wasn’t a mistake, but gosh I had a lot to learn. I was following scripts, pushing, and jumping to the gun before ever building a relationship. After hundreds of terrible sales calls, I began to understand what I was doing “wrong” and started understanding that I could go about sales in a different way. It honestly took me years of practice and I’m still working on it every day, but sales in general; marketing/messaging /pitching were absolutely things that I “messed up” at the beginning and I’m so grateful that I did. Sales is now one of my favorite topics to teach on and I feel I have some of the best personal experience with it.
So, my takeaway would be that there is no better teacher than experience itself.
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?
Again, I’m not sure that I could wish away anything I’ve done or tried. Like Steve Jobs said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward, only looking backward; so you must trust that the dots will appear.” The dots have lined up exactly how they should.
That said, there have been times where I’ve followed mentors and what worked for them and despite not feeling completely in alignment or excited about it, I did it anyway (because it worked for them and they said I should) and it ultimately lead me to resentment, boredom, frustration, and burn out. However, the lesson for me was (more than once) to practice listening to my own gut intuition and knowing that there is no one correct way to run a business. It’s a practice of trusting myself!
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
One of my mentors and friends Chris Harder always says, “Ego is your biggest overhead” and that one quote changed my life. Dropping my ego and knowing that it’s okay to ask for help or admit I don’t know something has actually become my superpower. The first time I truly asked for help is when I checked myself into an outpatient clinic for my eating disorder and it saved my life. Ever since that moment, I became obsessed with asking for help and collapsing the time it would take me.
Another key piece to my success has been simply being a lifelong student. I’m committed to growth; always growing and learning, taking classes, investing in myself, reading books, listening to podcasts, and going to events that stretch me. The more I learn, the more I can teach and share. I’m a huge advocate for the ripple effect and learning has been my ultimate tool to create a ripple.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
As someone who has dealt with adrenal fatigue, burnout, and a handful of health issues more than once, I love this topic! I think it’s crucial for a person to understand their own signals or key indicators for when they may be started to “push” too much. This is different for everyone, but I can share some of mine in the hopes that they may help a reader. I know it’s a good time to walk away, take a break, or shut the computer Whenever I feel the following:
Uninspired, unmotivated, frustrated, annoyed, comparing myself, doubting myself, working but getting nothing done, procrastination, tired, irritable, snippy, defensive, argumentative, overly sensitive
If I’m being honest, I used to judge myself for feeling these things. I would actually push myself harder and force myself to work more. Now, I understand that these are kind and loving messages from my body/brain. These are gentle reminders that I need to slow down and give myself some space. I now honor myself when these things come up and I walk away.
With that, I think it’s also important to start practicing awareness around alignment. Begin things like meditation, journaling, self-reflection, and talking things out with someone you trust to help you decipher whether or not what you’re “doing” is in alignment or not with who you want to “be”. This has been a huge shift for me over the last 2 years; focusing on “being” more than “doing” and asking myself repeatedly “Who do I have to become to do/have XYZ?”. My number one thing here is that your “to be list” is actually. Your “to-do list”.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Something I see often (guilty as charged) is founders and leaders trying to do everything at once. I know that I am visionary and creative, I am constantly coming up with ideas; faster than my team can keep up with. To be honest, not all of these ideas are even “mine”. Sometimes we come up with ideas that are meant for someone else to execute on (a conversation for a different day). Practicing when it’s time to do/create something new and when it’s time to allow someone else to jump on it is hard. I also see a lot of founders fall into the trap of “what everyone else is doing” and “shiny object syndrome”. It becomes really difficult to delineate what is meant for us and what is not. There are so much noise and competition out there that founders want to not only keep up but get ahead. So, it’s hard to not want to do everything all at once.
Remember, that is coming from a place of scarcity and thinking it’ll be too late or that there isn’t enough to go around. Step back into abundance, there is always enough!
In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
I think the most underestimated part of a company to outsiders is actually the personal growth journey that it takes you on. To be honest, I’m not sure if I’m growing a company or simply growing myself. I think it’s one and the same!
Other entrepreneurs and leaders “get it” and I talk about it every day with my peers. It’s deep inner work, past trauma, old stories, childhood wounds, constant reframing, overcoming doubt/fear, ego work; it’s deep and dark while also being beautiful, light, and expansive.
I don’t think “outsiders” often think about what actually happens behind the scenes. Truthfully, I think knowing what it takes (new levels, new devils) would scare people more than the idea of starting a business.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Began Leading My Company”? Please share a story or an example for each.
5 things I wish someone told me before I began my company, let’s dive in!
You’ll never be ready. Perfectionism is just a mask for fears which will lead you down a road of procrastination, which is just an excuse to not take action
- Imagine what the world would look like if the Wright brothers were still “perfecting” the airplane or Zuckerberg was still dilly-dallying with his first version of Facebook; how would things look if Edison was too scared to share his discovery of the light bulb? Realize this, what you are working on and creating is NOT the final version. I’m not sure there is ever a final version because you’re always going to be tweaking it and making it better. But, if you don’t get the first messy and imperfect version out, no one can help you make it better. When I look at our signature 90-day program E+mpower, I don’t even recognize what it used to be. We are currently filling cohort number 12 which includes a 100-page hard copy workbook, a directory of students, welcome gifts, graduation gifts, multiple progress surveys, 11 different coaches, specialty calls, fancy slideshows, you name it. The first cohort was filmed live on zoom with no slideshows, no coaches, no process, no gifts, no coaches; just the clients and me. I am not embarrassed or ashamed of that, I’m actually extremely proud of our growth! If I let my perfection and “readiness” get to me 2 years ago, we wouldn’t have helped over 300 entrepreneurs create almost $7 million in revenue for themselves and start businesses during a global pandemic!
- Buckle up and get ready to do the inner work. You’ll cry more than you could have imagined. You’ll question your purpose and worth. You’ll walk away from friendships, leave toxic situations, and get really good at learning when to say no. You’ll have to practice boundaries. You’ll most likely need to forgive people from your past and work on understanding that your parents did the best they could with what they had. You’ll learn to shift from victim to taking responsibility. I’ve been “doing the inner work” for almost two decades, but entrepreneurship is a different beast. I’ve had the opportunity over the last few years to squash limiting beliefs, heal past trauma, journal through old money stories that were passed down, and reflect on why I seem to always get into certain situations. I believe that the gaps, holes, leaks, and challenges you see in your business are actually just a reflection of those happening inside of you, and what a beautiful chance to work through them.
- Asking for help is not a weakness, but rather a strength. As I mentioned earlier, “ego is your biggest overhead” and it can and will cost you the most. Asking for help saved my life, it then changed the direction of my life, it then unleveled my life, grew my business, expanded my network, and ultimately gave me the space I needed to grow and heal while my company was still thriving and flourishing. Whenever I’m being coached or on a call with mentors/masterminds, I challenge myself to raise my virtual hand before I have a question. It then forces me to figure out something to ask so that I can be helped, seen, and supported. The practice of asking for help is a strength. Using your voice is necessary. Admitting when you don’t know or if you’re wrong is crucial. You can grow yourself or your business if you aren’t willing to put yourself out there and ask for help. Not to mention, it’s nearly impossible to scale a business without assistance.
- Practice the art of difficult conversations. This is something that I not only have always said “I was bad at”, but I ran away from difficult conversations because they’re hard for me, they make me uncomfortable, and I’d rather just “deal with it” on my own. Well, as an entrepreneur, a founder, a business owner, and CEO that is unacceptable. You’ll not only likely have tough conversations with friends, family, and loved ones about how you’re going to do it anyway, how you understand they aren’t supporting you and that’s ok, how you need space, how you’re practicing boundaries, how “no you can’t because XYZ,” how you messed up, how you need help, etc. But, you’ll also be given these opportunities as practice; practice for the times you need to let a team member go, tell your team lousy news or handle an unhappy client. I’ll never forget the first team member I had to let go of. I lost sleep for months over it. We both knew it was time, but like a standoff, we were both waiting for the other person to make a move (which was honestly so much worse). I was sick to my stomach for weeks before our call. I cried hysterically the morning we were going to chat (and she knew what was coming), but I couldn’t shake it. I had rehearsed, written myself notes, spoken to my husband and mentors about it, and I still wasn’t prepared. To this day, it was the hardest conversation I had. My emotions were wrapped up, I couldn’t help but think of her and her family. I just wanted to keep pushing it off or have someone else do it, but that isn’t leadership. Just like ripping a band-aid off, I just did it and as soon as I did, a huge weight was lifted off of me. I actually had to take the rest of the workday off that day because my central nervous system was in full-blown shock and the amount of adrenal I created was making me physically ill. But, the next day it was like the fog lifted. I began sleeping. My gut issues subsided. I felt lighter and like I could finally focus after months of struggling. We remained friends and she actually went on to have more success than we could have ever offered her. The one difficult conversation was the catalyst to handfuls more and each time they got easier. I now don’t wait months or have to take the day off. I still practice difficult conversations more often than I would like, but that is leadership, that is running a company, that is being in a committed relationship where we both agree to do the work, that is “adulting” and I’m here for it!
- Yes, you need to have a clear vision and goal, but you need to be equally as detached from it and flexible with what getting there looks like. Pivoting, being flexible and agile, having intention, and being open to how it may actually look is imperative when building a business. If 2020 taught us something, it is that nothing is certain and things can change at the drop of a dime. As a business owner in 2020 we were forced to make some quick changes, let go of plans, and re-imagine how we were conducting business. This couldn’t be more true about business in general. Launches won’t always go as planned. Events get canceled. You miss your revenue goals. You overshoot the budget. You may even wind up in a completely different industry than where you started. THAT is what is so exciting. You can’t see what is ahead and that’s the fun part. I went to college for my Doctorate of Physical Therapy. I then spent a year in the fashion industry followed by 8 years working as an elementary school teacher. I worked as a personal trainer for over 17 years. Nothing in my past indicated that I would be here; an entrepreneur, running a company centered around business consulting. Aside from reading books and joining courses, I have never taken a formal class in marketing or sales in business or economics in quite literally, anything that I teach now. If I was married to building the fitness empire I originally thought I was trying to build, I wouldn’t be here. I would have missed out on opportunities and relationships. I would probably be out of alignment, unhappy, and resentful. There’s a level of “go with the flow” that you must fall in love with!
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 believe we have already started a movement with what we’re teaching, but I would love if everyone could understand they had the ability to make an impact and income out of thin air. We all have valuable lessons, information, and experience in our heads that we can share with the world. I want everyone across the globe to have access to ways that they can create financially, time, location, and career freedom with what they already know. We all have superpowers, we all have solutions to problems, we all have ways that we can help others. A rising tide lifts all ships!
I would love to see a shift in education that focuses on teaching children how to rewire their brains. Programs that can help all humans began learning at a young age that they have control over their thoughts and beliefs, which in turn is what creates our personal reality.
How can our readers further follow you online?
I hang out most often on Instagram at www.instagram.com/jess.glazer
Of course, they can visit my website www.jessglazer.com
Stay tuned for our official Digital Business E+volution launch!!!
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!