Experience is great, but confidence is king. That college degree is amazing, those past client testimonials are awesome, the hundreds of products you’ve sold or services you’ve rendered are not to be discounted but, being confident in what you do and how you help solve a problem in the world will create more of a ripple effect than anything else.
As a part of my series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jessica Stansberry, a personal and business development coach who helps passionate women get out of their own way, stop making excuses, and start doing what they were put on this earth to do. Jessica throws down booty-kicking strategy and motivation with a side of southern sass weekly on her chart-topping podcast, Grit, and YouTube channel.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
It all started with me crumpled in a ball, crying my eyes out in my bathroom floor with a 12-week old baby and a corporate job I hated; that was the day, the moment actually, that I decided that I couldn’t do it anymore and two weeks later I had quit my job, was home full-time with my baby and was making very little money doing freelance graphic and web design work. After a few years of that, I realized I was missing out on really seeing where my business could go so I hunkered down, got serious, raised my prices and started taking myself and my business seriously and, when I did that, the world followed suit. I quickly transitioned from a web designer to an infopreneur and coach and have followed that path for the last several years, teaching courses, coaching women on running a better business and, now, giving them tools to be better versions of themselves so they can do what they were made to do.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
There have been so many things that have happened over the last 9 years of running my business but, honestly, the most interesting and almost comical was the time I was speaking at a conference in California and decided that I HAD to eat breakfast by the beach, so I put out a public call to all of the conference goers and about 10 of us headed down to the beach for breakfast before the conference. One of the sweetest ladies and I started chatting and she turned out to be the sister to one of the former Bachelorettes (as in, the Bachelorette on ABC) and before we left the beach I was facetiming with her Bachelorette sister as someone who, at the time, was reality TV obsessed. At face value, that’s really just a fun story to tell but it’s a testament to the unexpected turns around every corner and awesome people I’ve gotten to meet because I run this business.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Don’t try a new, completely different hairstyle right before a big networking event. Listen, I know you’re expecting me to talk about something that actually happened IN my company but, for us ladies, this is an important lesson. I decided that I’d be brave and ask for a different kind of hair color from a stylist that wasn’t completely confident in it, 3 days before I went to my FIRST EVER SPEAKING engagement. I left the salon with some crazy looking, not publicly acceptable hair and after rushing to another salon to have it fixed, three rounds of color and an eventual 6-inch chop of the ol’ mane, I learned my lesson.
Try new things, get the ombre hair or the bangs but NOT right before a networking event.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
When I first started, I was afraid that if someone heard my southern accent (something I was conditioned my whole life through movies and professors in college to believe made me sound less-than-intelligent) that they would not take me seriously so I avoided phone calls and video chats as much as I possibly could. Fast forward to today and my accent is the first thing people usually see of my brand since they find me on YouTube or my podcast, it’s pretty forward-facing and, interestingly enough, it’s THE thing that helps me stand out. Isn’t it funny how that works? The thing I thought would be a problem for my brand, is one of the top assets of it. Since I have a tendency to be a little bit of a “no-nonsense” personality and coaching style, I soften the blow with humor and a southern accent and suddenly I’m your tough-love online BFF.
I teach my clients and students that they have to be “unforgettable” because so many of us are building personal brands where we ARE the company and most of the time, the thing that makes us unforgettable is simply a piece of our personality that we don’t even realize stands out.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I just launched a podcast in April of 2019, called Grit, where I deliver motivational, inspirational, strategic content that can be applicable to the entrepreneur, the side-hustling corporate woman or really just anybody who needs a bit of a kick-in-the-pants. For months after it’s launch it sat on the iTunes top 100 Business Podcasts charts and in New and Noteworthy in both the Business and Healthy (personal development) categories which meant that even more ladies got to hear it! There’s been so much amazing feedback from listeners who have said it’s helped them realize that they were making excuses and not going after their goals or that they realized they were the ones holding themselves back and I can’t wait to see where it goes and grows to in the future and how it will continue to help women get out of their own way and stop playing small.
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
Choose people to be on your team who are already on their own journey of self-help. I’ve found that the people who are knee-deep in personal development books or podcasts have a higher level of awareness and, honestly, drive, determination, and grit. Skills can be taught, but that want, desire, and alignment with a company’s mission can’t be.
I’d also suggest that, as a leader, you understand exactly what your company’s mission is and why you’re doing the work you’re doing because if you don’t understand it, your team members can’t either.
What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
First, hire experts and, second, allow them to be experts. I have worked as a contractor ON large teams and managed large teams within my own company and there is so much power in letting your team members be great at what they’re great at and not micromanaging or stepping in the way.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Oh my goodness, there are so many people who have helped me along the way from coaches and mentors to peers and even students and clients but the person who comes to mind first is Dana Malstaff. Dana runs a company called Boss Moms and since the first time we met we were fast friends and ready to help each other take on the world. She’s asked me to speak on the stage at her conference, sang to me on my birthday when I spent it away from my family, recommended me to organizers of conferences and events that led me to speaking and meeting other amazing mentors, clients and students and so much more. I’m so thankful for Dana’s friendship and true, genuine desire to help me in any way possible.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
My mission in life is to help other women realize that working away at a dead-end job is NOT what they were put on this Earth to do and, just by helping that one person, who needed to hear my podcast or hear me speak, I’ve done my job but, since I’ve been able to grow my reach and “success” levels, I’m able to further the reach of my net and spread that message even further. In addition to that, I have big goals and dreams for where our personal and company philanthropic efforts will continue to grow and I’m so excited for the impact that could make.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- If you take your business seriously, so will everyone else. I used to downplay my business and, even though it was providing an income higher than I had previously made at my corporate job, I would still refer to it in terms that made other people think that I was just making enough money to put my kids in soccer or buy groceries but when I started reframing the way I spoke about my business, to treat it like a real business, other people spoke about it and treated it like a real business.
- Experience is great, but confidence is king. That college degree is amazing, those past client testimonials are awesome, the hundreds of products you’ve sold or services you’ve rendered are not to be discounted but, being confident in what you do and how you help solve a problem in the world will create more of a ripple effect than anything else.
- You can do it! When I first started my company, I didn’t realize that I could make more than a few hundred dollars a month, and, more importantly, I didn’t realize I could got to make the rules and decide exactly how big my company grew and how much money i could make. Once I realized the income ceiling wasn’t even a thing as an entrepreneur and that I could have whatever company and life I wanted, I wished so bad someone would have told me I could do it sooner.
- All of the reasons you think you can’t aren’t true. I live in a small town, like really small, where there are literally more cows than people, three hours from an airport and, gasp, 2 hours from a Target and for so long I thought that that meant I couldn’t have the business that other people in different areas could. I’ve heard women say everything from, “I can’t do that because I’m an introvert” to “I wish I could do that but I can’t because I have little kids at home.” None of that is true, “can’t” is a dirty word and is sabotaging your success.
- Dive into personal development and self-help early. There’s nothing better for a business or leader than seeking out ways to make yourself better so you can make your company, team and the world better.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire 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 would start up an entire army of lady leaders who are constantly chanting, “you’ve got this”. So many women, well, people in general, are stuck in a place where they have big, scary goals but they’re, well, scared. I’m here to tell them that they’ve got this, that they can go after the life they want to live AND that when they see another person struggling in the same spot, that a simple, “you’ve got this” may be exactly what they need.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“There’s no reason to have a plan B, because it distracts you from Plan A.” — Will Smith
So often in my life, I’ve held myself back and not given my all because, in the back of my mind, I had a plan B, a “get out of jail free” card; whether it was another business idea or a job opportunity or even a fall-back on discontinued services or products that I knew sold well, it held me back. I learned when we focus our whole focus on plan A and don’t have a safety net or a Plan B, plan A is WAY more successful.
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 with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Oh, I love this question! If you made me pick just one person, it would have to go with Rachel Hollis; I feel like we’re kindred souls who believe in hard work, determination and not allowing excuses to dictate our lives and to sit and talk business and goals over breakfast or lunch with her would likely start a fire that nobody could put out.
Thank you for these great insights!
About the author:
Chaya Weiner is the Director of branding and photography at Authority Magazine’s Thought Leader Incubator. TLI is a thought leadership program that helps leaders establish a brand as a trusted authority in their field. Please click HERE to learn more about Thought Leader Incubator.