"Who is Jennifer White anyway?"
You know, I love it when people ask that question because it's such an absurd one. How does someone answer that? I could go through a list of things I do or have done like being a bestselling author, nationally known success coach, an entrepreneur at heart. I could tell you I paint in my free time or that I live in Kansas City with my husband and my seven pets. Or, I could tell you what type of house I live in or the car I drive. But that's not what you really want to know.
How on earth would you describe yourself? If you ask anyone who knows me to describe me, they would say I'm alive. I'm always up to something new and exhilarating. And I expect the people around me to truly live their lives, not just talk about it.
"Talk about living...when I read your bio page, I notice you've done some pretty amazing things with your life. What inspires you to do what you do?"
My inspiration always comes from the people in my life. I watch my clients struggle with their challenges then rise to the occasion to win big. I'm inspired by their courage and their strength. I'm inspired by people who disregard the status quo and go for their dreams when no one is supporting them. I'm inspired by entrepreneurs who take out 10 credit cards to start their business -- no, not because I encourage debt, but because they believe that they can make it work. And, I'm inspired by my dogs who remind me that no matter what happens, you can always find something to wag your tail about.
"So how did you become a coach?"
I was working as a consultant when I met a woman at a cocktail party in Dayton, Ohio. We exchanged pleasantries and business cards, and when I walked away, I truly never thought I'd ever see this woman again. A few days later, she called me and asked me if I was watching Good Morning America, a morning TV show. Anyone who knows me knows I watch very little TV, but the next thing I know, she's giving me a phone number to call.
All she said was, "This guy on the TV is who you are. You need to call him."
The man turned out to be Thomas Leonard, one of the founders of the coaching profession. I called him. Then I talked to 14 coaches in three days, and I started my coaching business on the fourth. I just knew this was the right thing for me.
The morale of this story: Be awake enough to take advantage of opportunity when it lands in your lap.
"And being an author? Do you write because it's a great way to bring you business?"
Very few people know that I went to journalism school at the famed University of Missouri. It's like the Harvard of Journalism there. I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was 15 years old. I even did a stint at the Midland Daily News when I was in high school. But when I got into the Mizzou journalism school, I was surrounded by very good writers. I mean, the best of the best. And I lost my confidence. I decided I was just average, and I'm not one to settle for being average, so I dumped my writing dreams to go into public relations and marketing. To top it off, I married an amazing writer which only served to kill my confidence. For years, every time I read his stuff, I would remark on how good he was and how not-so-good I was.
Yes, we all have our own demons to fight. Obviously, somewhere along the line I realized I wasn't so bad after all. I have Rob Daumeyer, the editor of the Cincinnati Business Courier to thank for that. He gave me an opportunity to write a weekly column for his paper. It was through the discipline of having to write 700 words every single week that helped me realize I could be a writer after all. It also didn't hurt that hundreds of my readers sent me e-mails and called me to let me know how my words had impacted their lives. I love that.
"Where did you get the idea to write a book called Work Less, Make More?"
I was at a coaching conference a few years ago, a bit bored out of my mind. I'd been there for two days, and none of the speakers seemed to be inspiring me. I was chatting in the back of the room with one of my buddies, when the speaker asked, 'What do we as coaches really do for our clients?' Wow. What a darn good question. And I started contemplating the answer for myself.
I was soon scribbling a bunch of stuff on my yellow pad. I started by making a list of the clients I'd worked with on one side of the page, and I wrote down the results we created on the other side. I realized I helped my clients do one of four things: 1) get a life by working less hours, 2) make more money (20% of our clients doubled their income in 1998), 3) find passionate and fulfilling work and 4) make more of their lives. Voila! Work Less, Make More®. The book flew out of me during the next 90 days.
"What has been your biggest business challenge so far?"
It's no secret that my biggest challenge has been getting so caught up in my work that I forget about the rest of my life. (I write about this extensively in my book.) Yes, I was a big workaholic. It was easier for me to work than to deal with building personal relationships. I've always been a performer at work, so like everyone else, I wanted to play the game where I could always win. And personal relationships are just not about winning. It took me a long time -- and a lot of hard work -- to shift my perceptions about work and about life. I did a lot of healing while I was writing my book. I know I came out of those dark times much freer and more in tuned with who I am than I ever thought was possible.
But I'll tell you. It still amazes me how much my story sounds so much like my readers. I truly had no idea so many people would jump on the Work Less, Make More® bandwagon. No idea my philosophy would become so popular. It's such an incredible thing to be able to impact so many people with my ideas.
"Is it true you take four vacations a year?"
Yeah, it's true. After not taking a vacation for three years, I take a lot of time off these days. Please don't misunderstand. I'm a firm believer in working hard. And I'm also an advocate for playing hard and resting. I do all three.
"What keeps you so focused? It seems as if you have many projects going at the same time and you're running a successful coaching firm. Most people would be crazed by now."
Ah, read my book for the answers to that question. The strategies I outline in the book -- and now on the audiotapes -- are exactly how I live my own life. I use the Power of Focus. I get rid of everything that drains me so I can be brilliant. I surround myself with amazing professionals who can support what I do. I have coaches in my life who keep me on track. And, I make sure every day that I have quiet time to contemplate where I am and where I want to be. It's amazing how powerful 15 minutes of silence can be. Try it. You'll see what I mean.
"What's the one piece of advice you'd give a person who wants to go for it?"
I've always wanted to give a commencement speech but have never been asked, so let me sum it up by saying this. Make your life a masterpiece. Create an extraordinary life where every day you feel the freedom, the joy, the fulfillment, and the satisfaction you've been searching for. I know you'll experience bumps in the road and days when you have no idea how you're going to go on. But, if you can taste what life has to offer you, you will make it happen. I know you will.
Just have the courage to be who you really are when the world has gone crazy around you. That's what making your life a masterpiece is truly all about.
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