1. When did you realise your love for what you do? I’ve always been a storyteller and a reader. As a kid I read everything I could get my hands on, including the shampoo bottle in the shower, every single time. I also started submitting short stories to Highlights and Reader’s Digest magazines when I was about seven. I distinctly remember thinking, “if they (the other unknown contributors) can be published, why can’t I?”
2. What do you love most about what you do? All of it: The freedom. The creative expression. Making people laugh (hopefully) or cry (occasionally) or think (ideally). Seeing my words–and my name–in print. Hearing from a reader that something I wrote moved or changed them. Glowing 5-star reviews. The fact that my daughters admire and respect what I do, and more importantly that I have a written legacy to leave them.
3. What’s the most significant piece of wisdom you’ve received or acquired through life experience? “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.”
4. What’s been one of your biggest challenges you’ve faced and how did you navigate through it? The landscape of the publishing industry has shifted dramatically since I began my career 25 years ago. Change is scary and hard, but at some point I realized there are basically two choices: dig in your heels and resist the inevitable shift (or bitch about it), or buckle up, go with the flow and trust in your talent and tenacity. I chose the latter, thankfully.
5. What are 3 of your daily non-negotiables? Coffee, washing my face before bed–and I mean really washing it–and “three (great) things about your day” (our family gratitude practice).
6. What do you believe is your greatest asset and how does it serve you? I’m pretty fearless, at least professionally. My career motto is “the answer is always yes until it makes unequivocal sense to say no.” This has forced me outside of my comfort zone (Give a TED talk? Why not?! Accept an unsolicited job as a radio DJ with no experience or skills? Hell yeah! Go ice climbing and write about it? Pick me!), always with life-changing results.
7. How do you elevate and empower those around you? I believe there’s always enough success to go around. Supporting you doesn’t hurt me, it buoys us both. If you’re not a woman who champions other women, I’m sorry but you’re not invited to my birthday party.
8. What does the word failure mean to you? You didn’t try, period.
9. In your opinion, what’s the number one thing that holds people back from going after what they want in their lives? What would you say to them? Probably fear of failure. I love asking people, “What would you set out to accomplish if you were guaranteed to succeed? NOW GO DO IT.” I’d rather die trying than live knowing I didn’t try.
10. If you could share one seed of inspiration for those chasing their dream, what would it be? WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Seriously. Do something, right now and every day after, that puts you one step closer to your dream. People tell me all the time, “I want to write a book, but it’s just so daunting…” Write ONE page a day and it’ll be done in less than a year. Write TWO pages and it’s half that. Baby steps add up; sitting still gets you nowhere.
Want to connect with Jenna? Find her at the links below.