INTERVIEW WITH JENNY B.: MY HUSBAND'S AFFAIR WAS THE MOST UNEXPECTED GIFT
What made you start your business?
The seeds of becoming an entrepreneur were planted in my heart during my early twenties, when I first read Tim Ferris’s book Four Hour Work Week. And while I dabbled here and there with a few ideas, but I ultimately chose the standard route of getting my degree and getting a corporate job. The problem was that I never truly felt satisfied in any position that I held.
Add to this, I then discovered my husband of 7 years was cheating on me and that made me question EVERYTHING about my life. I was working as the Director of Education at a Neurotech company, at the time, and while I liked my job and the salary was great, I was tired of working 60+ hours a week and being expected to work some weekends as well. I used to think a company phone was a privilege, until I realized it was more like a leash that carried with me and an expectation that I was always available to work. I wanted total freedom... the freedom to choose my own hours and work on my own terms.
At that point, I left my husband and I resigned from my job (yes, before I had any other plans) and immediately started my research online. In my search, I came across Pat Flynn, an amazing entrepreneur and affiliate marketer. His podcast is where I first learned about becoming an Amazon seller and I knew that was the direction I wanted to go in.
I tried a couple different business ideas that didn’t work out, mainly because my goal was to make an income (which isn’t a bad goal but for me, wasn’t enough to sustain me to keep going). When I examined my own life to figure out what I really loved, what made me happy, I realized I wanted to share my love for positive affirmations. They were my constant partner during every difficult period in my life and I wanted to offer this to others.
I designed my own set of positive affirmation cards and started selling it on Amazon. When I started getting inquiries about my cards from other countries, like Australia and the UK, I decided to start an Etsy shop as well. Now, I have 6 different types of affirmation decks and I plan to keep creating more.
What is the core of your philosophy and how did you narrow it down?
Through various life experiences, I’ve come to adopt five values I consider most important to me at this point in my life:
Grow every day - Mentally, physically, spiritually, intellectually.
I don’t want to just exist or survive life. Growing and learning makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something every day, however small, and that makes me happy.
Be conscious of your thoughts and your self talk.
We determine our future with every thought we think and every word we speak. We can only change our negative thought patterns that don’t serve us if we’re conscious of them, so pay attention and make changes as needed.
Embrace the suck, but choose optimism whenever possible.
Being optimistic doesn’t mean we gloss over the challenges we face and pretend they don’t exist (that’s toxic positivity). Optimism allowing ourselves to feel upset/angry/frustrated about what’s happening (embracing the suck), but knowing we can move on to finding a solution to the problem or accepting what is. It’s a game changer when you switch your thinking from “Why is this happening to me?” to “What can I learn from this?” I want my difficult moments to mean something and I hope to come out of it stronger and wiser. As the Dalai Lama says, “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”
Do it now.
My kids have become my best life coaches. They continue to challenge me to become a better version of myself and a part of that is to become more self aware and conscious of my habits. Procrastination is something I’ve always struggled, with but having kids has made me become more of a Do it Now person because: when I don’t do the mundane little tasks immediately, as they come up in my mind, they’ll never get done on time because my kids will force my focus somewhere else in the next moment.
Make people feel seen, heard and loved.
I first saw this quote from L.R. Knost and it completely changed how I parent: “Every day, in a hundred small ways, our children ask, Do you see me? Do you hear me? Do I matter? Their behavior often reflects our response.” But I realize every human being, including adults no matter the age, also ask these questions. If we can make others feel seen, heard and loved, we are serving others in the most beautiful way we can.
How do you handle pressure to fit into a specific business mold or societal definition of what you should do with your career and follow your own guidance?
Growing up, my parents encouraged me to go to college so I could become a professional in the medical or legal field. While my parents meant well, I had no desire to become a doctor or lawyer. I did eventually get a business degree at Arizona State and started working for a bank after graduating. I was unhappy and a bit shocked that life as a “grown-up” was so unfulfilling. I tried another position, but I wasn’t happy there either.
I finally got a job with a company as a tech that didn’t even require a college degree, mainly as an experiment to see if I’d be happier there. Turns out, even though my salary was lower than I’d ever made, I was happy doing something that gave me an opportunity to help people. It made me realize that I’m the happiest when I got to help others and the salary, while important, was secondary. I eventually got promoted to a higher position within that company and also got my Masters in Education so I could advance further, but at that point, I did that because I wanted to, not because I felt pressure.
Ultimately, I knew that becoming an entrepreneur was what I eventually wanted to be. I was just fortunate that my husband’s infidelity was the turning point in my life that gave me the courage to finally go for it. And I’m also very grateful to my now partner in life, also an entrepreneur, who supported and encouraged me every day.
What is a tool you recommend (be it a coach, meditation practice) to others who are juggling multiple priorities and struggling to find time to eat well and sleep?
While I don’t have a specific tool, I believe your mindset around things like eating and sleeping well are key to making them top non-negotiable priorities. And it helps to connect these things to your why. For example, why do I want to eat and sleep well? Because I want to feel good and that makes me the best mom and wife.
As a stay-at-home-mom to a 19 month old and 4 year old, most of my time is spent with them. But there are some non-negotiable things in my life that I always make a priority and I know that if I let them slip, my kids suffer, so they are my greatest motivators.
#1 - Morning quiet time: I always wake up before anyone else so I can start my day with some peaceful ‘me’ time. This usually includes reflecting/meditating on a positive affirmation and reading some kind of self development or parenting advice book. If my kids happen to sleep in that morning (it’s rare), I journal and do some work. My why: it allows me to start the day more grounded and at peace, which means I’m more patient and calm with my kids the rest of the day.
#2 - Daily evening home workouts: I won’t do this if I don’t make it easy so I usually dance for cardio and then strength train (15-30 min total time). This is also the time I catch up on my favorite television shows, so it’s something I look forward to. And during the times I have to work more at night, I’ll fit in just a quick 5 min Tabata workout and call it a day. My why: movement keeps me sane and is my mood/confidence booster. It also keeps me in shape so I can keep up with my kids.
#3 - At least 7 hours of sleep: This doesn’t always work out because I have young kids who sometimes wake me up in the middle of the night, but this is a high priority for me so if my sleep is interrupted one night, I go to sleep earlier the following night. My why: When mama doesn’t sleep, the whole family suffers. : )
#4 - Healthy food every day: I had some health problems come up in my mid 20’s and I discovered it was connected to the junk food I was eating. Since then, I’ve continuously educated myself on nutrition and when you know better, you just can’t eat the junk anymore. I make it a priority to cook healthy meals every day. That said, I don’t deprive my kids of the usual treats like ice cream, I just make healthier substitutes. For example, I make my kids a smoothie every morning with fruits and vegetables and I just put the leftovers in popsicle molds in the freezer and at night after dinner, they’re excited to have their popsicle dessert. They have no idea it’s just their same smoothie from the morning. Maybe I only get away with this now because my kids are young, but I don’t buy any junk food to keep at home so at least while they’re home, they don’t have any junk food options. My why: I want my family to feel good and be as healthy as possible.
What is your benchmark for keeping a balance, or do you go hard one season and take time off after?
I’m very fortunate that my business as an Amazon and Etsy seller allows maximum flexibility. I invested the most time into my business when I first got started and now it’s mostly maintaining it. I generally work about 1-6 hours per week and I can usually fit that in at nights after my kids go to bed. When something comes up and I need to work a little more, my husband (who also runs his own business) can take over watching the kids so I can work.
I know I could make a higher income if I had more time to work (which I would love to do) or hired people to help me, but during this season of my life, my highest priority is spending time with my kids so I’m very mindful of my time when I’m not with them and use a lot of that for self-care activities because my well-being ultimately affects my whole family.
What is the biggest challenge you overcame in life or business?
My biggest challenge I overcame in life was dealing with my ex-husband’s infidelity. It was a complete shock to me and something I never saw coming. It made me question so many things about my self-worth. I can look back now and be so deeply grateful that it happened, because I was able to grow through that experience and start my own business, fall in love again with a wonderful man, and have 2 beautiful kids who light up my world.
One of the biggest lessons I took away from that experience is that even when bad things happen in our lives, the pain is temporary and it’s a small price to pay for something even better to come along. While I’m not actively searching for painful experiences of course, but I know that when they come, I can maintain hope that I’ll be better off eventually and brighter days are ahead.
What would you tell other aspiring entrepreneurs / or business owners?
Just start. Even if you’re not ready.
I’m a big believer in doing research and learning about the field you want to get into, but there is just TOO much information online and you can spend forever and a day on learning... without actually doing. I think that there’s a point where you start learning too much about something and then you don’t actually start because you get overwhelmed with how much there is to do. I’m definitely guilty of that.
So I say, just start small. Keep learning as you go, but take some action, however small, every day. The faster you get started, the sooner you’ll make all the mistakes you need to make, to get to where you want to be.
How can we find out more about your business? Links?
Instagram and TikTok
MindfulMamabears.com - Coming soon