Rise & Shine Interview: Jenny Blake

Ever wondered how writing can help you land the job of your dreams after graduation? I'm excited that today, Jenny Blake, is “Speaking From the Heart” and sharing her experiences with all of us. 

Jenny Blake is a bestselling author, micro-business, coach, and international speaker who helps people move beyond burnout to build sustainable, dynamic careers they love. With two years at a technology start-up as the first employee, over five years at Google on the Training and Career Development teams, and two years of running her own business, Jenny combines her love of technology with her superpower of organizing information to help clients through big transitions — often to launch or elevate a book, blog, or business.

Jenny created her first website, Life After College, in 2005, then released a book of the same name in 2011 that was featured in Target’s 2012 graduation display. She has been featured on Forbes.com, US News & World Report, Real Simple magazine, and has spoken at several major universities and top companies such as Columbia, TEDxCMU, Google, and Best Buy.

Today you can find her at JennyBlake.me, where she explores the intersection of mind, body, and business. Jenny loves chocolate, coffee, and personal development books. Dogs, dancing, gadgets, yoga, writing, traveling, and long meals with friends all make her pretty happy too. For fun, Jenny teaches a Geek Yoga class in New York City for entrepreneurs. Follow her on Twitter @jenny_blake. I am really inspired by Jenny's vision and passion, so I asked her to be part of this series as she is a mentor to me. 

(c) Mark Hanauer http://markhanauer.com/
(c) Mark Hanauer http://markhanauer.com/

Jenny's Thoughts on Self-worth, Assertiveness, and Self-Expression

Why do you believe self-expression (speaking from the heart) is important?

Connecting with our own heart and taking risks to be vulnerable are what help us all relate to each other, feel more human, form bonds and create solidarity. Life can be a crazy roller-coaster sometimes, so to the extent that we are able to open up and share our successes and flaws, I believe it gives others permission and courage to do the same.

How has writing empowered you in other areas of your life?

Writing has helped me connect with my deepest "truths" of the moment. When "bad" things happen, I am able to more quickly see them as learning opportunities. Whether I'm journaling about it, meditating, or starting to plan a blog post (cathartic in itself), writing helps me process whatever is going on in my life -- and share the highs and lows with others. It has empowered me to build so many more meaningful relationships than I ever anticipated when I first started.

How did you find your authentic voice through writing?

Practice. And taking risks. Every time I was nervous to hit "publish" on a blog post, I had huge fears that sharing my flaws would send my audience running for the hills. Instead, it just brought them closer. This taught me to value my authentic voice, not run or hide from it. But I still get nervous, after almost six years of blogging!

How did you develop the courage to stand tall (i.e., get the courage to share your writing)?

Experimenting. Courage is a muscle, and I've built my writing courage over time, by sharing bit by bit, week by week. Sometimes I am feeling more open about sharing and at other times I want to process on my own first. Reading others' honest writing also really inspires me -- I know what I like to read, and it isn't just shiny list posts. It's bloggers and authors who have a mix of expertise to share AND are willing to let their audience in behind the curtain a little bit.


When you have a hard time writing, what do you do to work through it?

Remind myself that no one ever has to see what I'm about to write. Start somewhere, even if it's by writing "I am stuck, I have no idea what to write" at the top of a page.

How did you find your support group?

My support network has built organically over time by finding people who's work I admire and reaching out to them (or vice versa). It's not something I ever consciously built, but my support system has formed over time both in person and online from continuing to share my ideas in as meaningful and helpful ways as I can.

Any advice for new writers/authors?

Don't worry too much about your "niche" when you're first starting out. Don't even worry about how you will build an audience. Start by just getting into a regular writing habit, and push yourself to write one thing each week that scares you, even if you end up keeping it just for yourself. Focus on what you have experience with, what you like to read, and how you can best be of service to others. Reach out to peers and people that you admire. The rest will follow :)  

Thanks for speaking from your heart and empowering others, Jenny! Keep up the fantastic work! If you have any specific questions for Jenny, please feel free to ask :)

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One question that came to my mind after reflecting on what Jenny said was, "How do you get into a regular writing habit free of distraction?" Many people struggle with this, so I'm reaching out to you all and asking for your input.  Looking forward to hearing your suggestions!

Thank you for reading and your presence at this beach retreat. You Rock! I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comment section below.

See you at the beach!