007 – Share Your Voice. Interview with improve business coach Jenette Jurczyk
In this episode we talk about:
- Finding a system that works for your busy schedule
- Asking for exactly what you want and need
- Using your unique journey to offer unique opportunities in business
- Using improv to set yourself apart
- How sharing and listening to stories of women can change communities
- Finding your poise and confidence
Important Links for Jenette:
Complete Transcript Below
Calling all Wonder Women! Yes, that’s you. Hello! On this podcast, get ready to explore how female entrepreneurs use their superpowers to grow their careers, take control of their lives, and make the world a better place for their families and communities each and every day.
I’m Michelle Huls Rice, your host here and founder of The Women’s DreamVision Network, where I coach women on how to build their businesses, step up as leaders, and enact change for a greater good. I’m an entrepreneur, marketing professional, speaker, and promoter of cool women and cool ideas. Plus, and most importantly, I’m a mom to four littles with my supportive husband.
So tune in each week as my guests and I answer YOUR questions with practical, real-life, sweat-and-tears advice to help you proudly confirm your place with your fellow Wonder Women.
Grab your capes Wonder Women! We’re flying high!
Hello wonder women! I’m going to dive right in because today’s guest is one of those women that you look at and think, where does she get all her energy? How does she make it to all the things? Where do all her good ideas come from? And how is she so happy all the time?! This woman is Jenette Jurczyk.
By day, she is the director of operations at a real estate development and management company in Champaign, Illinois. By night, she is an MBA-wielding marketing and communications consultant, speaker and trainer, actress, director, producer, writer, philanthropist, travel agent, and wedding officiant. She also recently served as president of Junior League of Champaign-Urbana. And is the creative director for That’s What She Said, a live one-night show featuring local women sharing personal stories. Plus, (and this is super fun) through her consulting company, Key Light Consulting, she teaches workshops on how to incorporate skills from improv games and theater into your professional life.
Jenette married her college sweetheart, Brian, after an epic 16 years of “just friends”ship. They have two beautiful daughters who inspire and educate her each and every day on the true meaning of life.
Michelle: Hi Jeanette. I’m thrilled to finally talked with you. Does your bio wear you out? I mean, I understand all the interests. But seriously, we all only have so much time in a day.
J: Well, you did read all the things that I do or I should say have done but I think it’s important to remember, I don’t do all of those things all at the same time – ever. Those are lots of different things that I’ve tried over many many years. Let’s face it. I’m not a young Blossom anymore. But I’ve lived a very full life so far and I’ve tried a lot of different things.
M: I love that. I appreciate that and I really think more should should taste more things in life really, but you’re on calling Wonder Women and I always want to know what secret tool my guests have and talking about all of your interests and all of your things – is unlimited energy your superpower or do you have Hermione’s Time Turner or what do you think?
J: I wish I had those things! Now, it’s really about all the coffee. I may actually have an addiction. I mean a true appreciation for lovely warm coffee drinks. Actually. I do enjoy them but a lot of it just comes from my natural personality. I am one of those people who likes to be busy. I’m much more productive the more that I have to do and get pretty antsy when my schedule is not full.
M: I’m a Midwestern girl. I’ve grown up here, I was born here, but I saw that you’re originally from New Jersey and I also worked on the east coast and worked with a lot of people from Jersey and I don’t know – I don’t want to stereotype – but there’s a lot of energy coming out of that state. Do you ever think some of it has to do with your Jersey roots?
J: Yeah, I could agree with you that some of it comes from my Jersey roots. I like how you phrased it. There’s a lot of energy that comes from that state and that is part of it. I love the hustle and bustle of living in a busy place. I love the time that I spent in New York City. I also lived on the west coast for 10 years love the city life, love being active all the time. And so now I’m in the Midwest and I bring a lot of that with me.
M: Yeah, I can see that, but in all seriousness, fitting things in is something that so many people struggle with. What is your process? Like when you are setting your goals when you’re prioritizing and when you’re actually following through because I think that following through part is really what can take you from being a dreamer to being an achiever.
J: Well, I can answer that with two words: post-it notes, lots and lots of them. Well, that is one tool that I use, but it’s really about finding a system that works for you. I cannot manage a calendar inside my electronic device. I don’t use my smartphone calendar. I have a planner a paper planner that I swear by and it took me years to find the right one and it is the right match for my brain the way that it’s laid out and it helps me organize my schedule and my to-do lists and and I refer to it on a very regular basis. So when you find a system that works, it definitely helps you keep yourself organized and going. I actually also believe a lot in Integrity. If I say I’m going to do something. I do it all the way and that helps keep me motivated and stay on top of my tasks.
M: I love that answer. You definitely don’t want to let somebody down. And I love handwriting things. I’ve been reading a lot about how your brain will actually process and remember something much more if you’re writing it down.
So you are involved with a lot of activities and so many in-person activities. What’s that look like for your personal life because you are a parent, you have a lot going on. How do you get to everything? How does it fit into your schedule? How do you make it work in your in your personal planner?
J: And I love that you’re asking that question because I think it’s really important. I don’t try to pretend I’m something more than I am. I’m going to I’m going to share a little bit of honesty with you here. So my job as director of operations is not a full-time job. I negotiated what I needed at the time that I needed that when I had small children at home and I work 20 to 30 hours a week in my job. And when I had babies, I worked a very very full time job. I’m sure it was more than full-time at the time. It was a very consuming full-time job. Plus I’ve completed my MBA and I was I was definitely burnt out so when I was coming back into the job market after having my second daughter, I found a job that made sense for me and my needs and my schedule. I think so many women are afraid to do that. I actually was inspired by a friend of mine who I had learned was working I think 30 hours a week, and she was interviewing for jobs, and she made that part of her requirements and I said, oh my goodness, aren’t you scared that they’ll give it to someone else who can work more than you? She said no, I’m absolutely convinced I can do a better job in this amount of time than anyone else can do in 40 hours a week and that stuck with me and I was able to bring that desire to my next to my next interview and
I found the right job that worked for me that had the right flexibility that I needed. And so I think women need to speak up for what they need and also own their value of, “I believe that I’m getting paid what I’m worth for the amount of time that I’m willing to provide and then I can create my own schedule.”
And my other secret tool is that I have day care for my kids: I have full-time coverage from school to after school programs. And so I have built my schedule so that I have all the time that I need to do my things. From 2 o’clock to five o’clock is when I get to have my coffee dates, take my meetings, run my other businesses and at 5:30 when I pick up my girls, my computer goes off and I’m just Mom. I don’t open my computer at night until after they’re asleep and sometimes not even then. I schedule my day to make it work so that when I am with my kids I’m as present as possible.
M: I so appreciate you going into so much detail on that because I think number one – it’s it’s the driving factor on why I started coaching women
entrepreneurs: to help women create the schedule and the freedom that they need to take care of all the things in their life. And I think you don’t know how it works until you hear examples of how it works for other women and you don’t know what to ask for. I will ask, actually, how do you work insurance? Because I know so many times a requirement for working full-time, or a driving factor for working full-time, is you’ve got to cover the insurance. Do you cover it? Or maybe your husband covers it? How does it work for you guys?
J: So my children and I are on my husband’s company’s insurance and so that was not a driving factor in my job negotiations.
M: I just want to say that because it’s also one of the things that I feel needs changed in this country because so many decisions that Americans are making are because of health insurance. Women get in and stay in jobs where they’re not happy, where they’re not feeling, you know, their passion come alive because of those technical needs.
J: Yeah. I know that I am fortunate. I know that I had the freedom to make those choices, but I know that a lot of women don’t.
M: Well that’s part of why we’re here and that’s why I’m so excited that you do what you do because you are sharing stories and you’re sharing this information for other women. So thank you again for doing that.
J: And I also want to share that you read a lot of job titles for me in my introduction and I have done a lot of things but a lot of that was because I spent time searching to find my true calling and my true passion. And so while I have done a lot of things, I don’t do them all yesterday and today and tomorrow. There are things that I have in my toolbox and I use when they’re valuable to me, but I try to focus on on the job that I have at hand and give it my best when I’m when I’m director of operations, when I am a speaker or trainer, when I am directing a show. That’s what you get for me at that time, but I went on quite a journey to find my calling and to end up where I am today.
M: That’s great to hear. So you talked a little bit about being a mom. What are your secrets to managing parenting while you’re working? You talked about shutting it down and focusing on your kids, but you didn’t talk yet about keeping your energy up. I don’t count caffeine. That’s only a little extra bonus! But we all want more tips on how to be a better parent while we’re trying to conquer the world, right? So, do you have any of those? What are your secrets?
J: I wish there was a magic secret I could impart and enlighten you all but for me, I’m not much of a sleeper so I don’t get enough sleep for myself so I can maximize my time in the evening to get the you know, the housework done and the things that I need to accomplish. But I don’t know that there is any magic secret to it, you know. Kids when I’m with them – their energy feeds me and I just I want to focus on on spending time with them. I do try to eat well and exercise. I don’t think that’s a secret but we recently purchased an elliptical to have in our house because I was finding it too challenging to get to the gym as early as I would like and so that was my compromise. I needed to make it more accessible. So two or three mornings a week. I can work out in the morning before my kids wake up. And you know, I have my one hour a week where I go to my Pilates. You carve out the time that you need for you so that when the kids are with you, you know, the energy that you created is available.
M: That’s really smart. Do you have a team behind you? I’m going to guess yes because I hope everybody has a support system. What’s your team look like?
J: Well, they say it takes a village. They weren’t kidding. So I do have a very supportive husband. He’s very Hands-On and involved in the girls and their lives and our schedules, but he also he owns his own company and so his schedule is very unpredictable and he works late hours and he travels quite a bit. So when he’s home, I rely on him, but I don’t always get that luxury. I do have a rolodex full of babysitters that I trust (if rolodex is even a word in today’s lexicon) – I have speed dial. I have babysitter’s on speed dial that I trust and I have worked to make sure that I have people that I can call on. We don’t have any family here in our immediate area. My family is still back east in New Jersey. Now, that means that when my parents come to visit they come for an extended stay and so I’ll be honest – I have a pretty cool mom. And when we had our first daughter, I was still finishing my MBA program. And she moved in with us for a year. She gave us a year of her life. So we didn’t start daycare until the girls were one-year-old each. But I think people who have family who can come in and support them, I think that’s fantastic. I’m jealous of my friends whose parents live nearby and you know, they can drop the kids off for a Sunday afternoon and have some alone time or run errands. I don’t have that kind of convenience, but I do appreciate whatever I can get.
M: That really can change your life when you have some trustworthy help that you don’t have to give them all of the details of anything and they’re just there and helping out and being sort of a substitute for you, right?
Okay. Let’s talk about your improv workshops. I went to one recently and thought wow, what a great idea. So where did it come from? I mean, I’m guessing obviously it came from your background but there are lots of actresses out there and people involved in theater who aren’t doing this kind of work. So what’s it all about? And how did you first implement them?
J: Oh gosh. Thank you so much for asking. So when you say I have a background in theater. Yes, I studied theater. I got my BFA. I lived and worked in New York City and I spent 10 years in Los Angeles trying to become a huge movie star and I loved it. I loved living in California. But when Brian and I got together, he had a life here in Champaign and I had to make a decision and I made the right decision to come be with him and start our family and at that point Brian and I had already known each other for 16 years. And so I knew what I was getting into. That’s another epic love story. But here in a small town we have wonderful community theater. We have wonderful people who are creative and do all these wonderful projects. However, doing a play in a theater when you have small kids is such a commitment that I found wasn’t convenient for me and our lives at the time. So I did have a period of struggle where I was trying to figure out how to have a creative outlet and how to stay true to my heart and my passion but I also had a lot of experience in real estate and property management and when I got here to Illinois, I decided to [00:24:01] get an MBA degree, as one does because I didn’t have enough going on.
In one of my jobs, I actually mentored some students who work in our office and coached them through an interview process for management positions in our company. I found that I really enjoyed that and I was using techniques that I have used as an actor to help them build confidence for their interviews without realizing that’s what I was doing. To me that just seems like a normal thing to do but I started learning more and more that what I had to offer was not typical in the business setting and that I could help engineers and business professionals and scientists and students who who don’t have experience in performing kind of come out of their shells a little bit and express themselves in new ways so that when you walk into that room for an interview or a presentation you’re bringing your best self – you exude confidence. So I started talking to people and figured out that If I can tie in my theater experience and some theater techniques and teach workshops to business professionals – there was a market for that. I’ve been doing it for about two years now and I have absolutely loved it.
M: That’s so fantastic because coming from my day job, I work with scientists and academics all the time. It’s something that many people just haven’t had exposure to – the theater side of things: improv, communications. They’re so focused on the track that they are on and, rightly so, but enhancing their skill set with something that really suits. You know sharing their work in a better communication style is a huge benefit to them.
J: And I have found that’s absolutely true – the work that I do helps. I can’t help you answer the technical questions when you walk into an interview. I’m not even sure what your resume says about you, but I can help you find your true inner best self, your presence, your confidence before you walk into that room. And that’s been a true gift. That’s cool.
M: So women supporting women. It’s a part of my mission with the Woman’s Dreamvision Network and it’s not just supporting – it’s listening and learning and sharing advice, offering mentorship, offering even the horror stories. So it fits pretty nicely with That’s What She Said. So explain that and your role there, if you would.
J: So everything you just said: That’s What She Said is a one night, live performance of Women on the stage sharing a personal story and the mission is very simple: exchanging stories. But we’ve discovered that the results are extraordinary because something remarkable happens when women come together to support other women and no one knows that better than you. I’ve so enjoyed watching your journey and what you’ve been building to help women in our community and around the world grow in their passions.
So That’s What She Said was born in 2003 and I have to admit I wasn’t I wasn’t part of it at that time. I met this incredible group of women back in 2015 and through a number of circumstances had the incredible honor of directing the show in 2015 and 2016 and just realizing the power of women sharing stories and all the women who came out to support the show and listen and watch the speakers and see them nodding because they can relate to the stories that are being shared. You see the tears in their eyes because they’ve been there or they’ve never been there and they’re shocked to hear what they’re hearing. We have covered such a gamut of topics on That’s What She Said. And so I’ve been sitting on the role as creative director and I’m just thrilled that I am in a position where I’m getting to produce and direct this fifth installment that’s coming up.
So this spring we had 11 pretty amazing women from our community in CU. We’re just so thrilled at how the community has come out to support the show and it’s also perfectly in alignment with everything that I’ve talked about. So I love the theatrical component of it as putting women on a stage and helping showcase them in their very best light. It’s one night of beautiful empowerment as opposed to a traditional theatrical experience, which is months of rehearsal and months of production. So it really can make this work within my lifestyle as a mom. I can dedicate all of my gifts to this one night show and it’s just become this beautiful marriage of all the things that are important to me: empowering women, building community, giving a voice to stories that need to be heard, and creating this beautiful intimate theatrical experience for women. I love that.
M: It’s been very hugely popular and I saw that the founders have offered it as a franchise opportunity for others in around the world. So that looked exciting.
J: That’s something we’re building. We are looking to partner with women’s organizations in different communities who see the value in bringing That’s What She Said to their town. Yeah, that’s exciting.
M: So, what is the most challenging part of your day when you look at your day as a whole. You don’t sleep much. So are you a morning person? Is it feeding your family at dinner time, or is it something else?
J: I think you nailed it right there. I am not a morning person. I wish I was a morning person. I dream about being a morning person. But no, I repeatedly beat myself up because I go to bed too late and then mornings are challenging. So it’s just it’s part of the cycle of life. And that’s where the coffee addiction starts – bright and early. But I get up early, I get the kids dressed and out the door, but I am forever running late in the morning. That is that is the cross that I bear.
M: I bear it with you sister.
J: I think so many of us do. I know some shame and embarrassment gets tied to that but you know what? I show up and I bring my best self and mother’s are busy in the morning, and my morning doesn’t belong to me. And so I’m going to show up when I show up and I’m going to give you all I’ve got. Sometimes it’s going to be a little bit later than I had hoped but I have to have a little bit of Grace and forgiveness and that so that’s my biggest challenge. I admit I’m not perfect at all.
M: Well, nobody’s perfect! On the flip side, what’s the most rewarding part of your day? What keeps you going?
J: So after getting everyone out the door and getting everyone to where they need to be and going and looking at my day and working hard – you know, my kids are still little enough, they are five and six and without fail every time I go to pick them up or when I come home if you’re already at home, there is always that moment of sheer joy and excitement their faces light up and they scream, “Mommy Mommy Mommy,” and they run across the room to give me the biggest hug and no matter what happened in my day – that moment makes everything better. And in that moment, I just know I’m doing something right.
M: Yes. I’ve got tears in my eyes right now just listening to you because that is just the most wonderful experience, for me at least, and I’m glad that you have it too.
J: And I don’t feel guilty that I’m not with them all day. At some point some people tried to make me feel guilty for being a working mother but that wasn’t being true to who I was. I have to live my truth to be the best mom I can be and so when I experienced that moment of Joy, I know that they’re in a good, happy, healthy space. I know that they’re getting a good education and getting to play with their friends. They’re probably getting a lot more out of their day than they would have if they were with me anyway, my personal opinion. But that moment of joy just launches us on our evening or afternoon of quality time.
M: Thinking in terms of superheroes. When was the time recently that you felt your cape was missing – like you just didn’t have it all together. And then were you able to get it back on quickly?
J: I only feel like that, you know a dozen times a day. I’m sure we all do at times. I’ve had to say there’s nothing more humbling than you know think you have it all together and then taking your kids and running into the grocery store because you only needed one or two things and then its turned into a complete meltdown later and you feel like pulling your hair out. So I think the real reason we have children is to keep us humble and to make sure we don’t, you know start believing we’re to capable. They keep it real for me. Let them process whatever it is that happened that day and then I love coming together in the evenings with my kids. And if we had an experience that wasn’t perfect we sit down and we talk about it and I try really hard to be supportive and let them, you know, figure it out for themselves and come to their own conclusions and help guide them instead of tell them.
M: Okay Jeanette, think back to when you were younger. When you thought of a Wonder Woman – Who was she?
J: So when I was younger I used to obsessively watch the Miss America Pageant. When I was a preteen I used to watch the show and just be in awe of the women on the stage because I loved the combination of poise and confidence and intelligence and glamour that it took to be represented in the Miss America Pageant. One Miss America winner always stood out for me. Her name was Heather White Stone and she won the Miss America Pageant. I think she was the first hearing impaired participant, and she performed a ballet dance and couldn’t hear the music and I was just so impressed with how she overcame her own shortcoming and found a way to express her own truth through her love of dance and not let anything get in her way. And so I know a lot of people mock pageants, but I competed in them for a little time and I have to tell you they’re not easy. They taught me a lot about myself and about being a competitor but also being a good sport and a supporter for other women.
M: So do you feel like any of those attributes are reflective in your own life? I would say looking from the outside – you’re a go-getter. You don’t let anything stand in your way.
J: I don’t know. I’d like to think that I’ve taken the things that I admired about the Miss America contestants in the pageant as a whole and aimed to bring them into my own experience. But what I think is interesting, and didn’t even put it together until this conversation with you, is that one of the things I love doing is helping people find their own Poise and Confidence and I focus it on the stage or in a performance setting, but I’m really talking about when you’re walking into a business presentation or interview or sales pitch or any time that you have to be on – my little philosophy is that any time that you are in front of one or more people and you are speaking and all eyes are on you then you are in fact performing. And the fact is that I loved the performance elements of the women who went through the pageant system – now that is something that I try to teach to everyone, whether it’s one-on-one coaching or in workshop settings. But everyday people I work with – business professionals and engineers and students – everyone needs that little element of poise and confidence and I do think that that’s something I’ve learned for myself and now I try to share and inspire others.
M: That is gold.
J: Well you put these questions in front of me to really give it some thought. So thank you!
M: You’ve talked a lot about this indirectly, but to be really specific. How can we help others? How can we help other women rise up to help poise and confidence to shine in other women? I just want women to be confident in their abilities to follow their passions to know that they have good ideas and they are worth something to the greater good. So as you’re doing your work, what is a direct way that we can help other women do just that?
J: Help young girls and women find their voice but also find a place or an opportunity where their voices can be heard. It is such an important time for women right now with the political climate with women coming together wanting to to share an experience that’s empowering through the women’s marches and all the movements. I have to say that my work with That’s What She Said has been my vehicle to empowering women to stand up and raise their voices in unison and have something to say and
I’m really proud to share that this past fall we built a program – my good friend Erin Tarr (she coaches teen girls through her company Be The Benchmark) – she and I got together and we took the elements of That’s What She Said and the coaching that she does with teen girls and we built a brand new program. It’s called That’s What Teens Say and we invited 13 teen girls from our community who had never met each other before go through a three-day intensive program with us where we did some of the improv workshops and we taught, you know, confidence building activities and public speaking and we helped them develop and write their own personal stories. And at the end of the three days they stood on the stage with a microphone and shared their personal stories and their souls to an audience and it was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever been through.
These teen girls, they have something to say and we do not give them enough credit and we were so proud of these girls who in a room full of strangers, they were willing to talk about subjects that we weren’t prepared for. We thought that we were going to teach them how to tell a fun story and from the moment we met them we were blown away. These girls talked about anxiety and depression. They talked about being from a divorced household. One girl talked about being adopted from an orphanage in Taiwan, one talked about coming out of the closet in fifth grade, and they talked about physical disabilities and mental disabilities. It was incredible. I have to quote one of the girls who after three days of this workshop and her final performance, she put on her own social media that she had just had the best weekend of her life and that she found her voice and that to me was everything.
M: That that is everything because we can all come together and help young women and girls and and also older women who have something to say just find a way to help them be heard.
J: We all want to be heard, definitely. And we all have things to learn from other people when we listen, so I think that’s very important as well.
M: Jeanette, thank you so much. You’re making the world a better place with your energy, your ideas, your joie de vivre and your support of women. So how can people connect with you?
J: So in all the things that I do, I would love for people to reach out and and follow what we’re doing.
SheSaidProject.com and please like us on Facebook.
Then for anyone who wants more information on my improv workshops: keylightconsulting.com
M: Fantastic! Answer the call Wonder Women! Embrace your powers, step up, and get out there to change the world. Until next time.