Community at Work Makes Community in the World

0:00:03.9 S1: Hi everyone, this is Julie Bruns. Welcome to the Peace and Possibilities podcast. I want you to thrive and be happy, peaceful and content. No matter where you are in your journey. This podcast shares stories that will show you how it can be done, no matter what your circumstances. We inspire to come away with a new spark of an idea. Never forget, anything is possible. New episodes are released every Wednesday. Subscribe, rate us, and leave us a review. This helps others find our content and get happier sooner. To possibilities.

0:00:45.9 S2: Welcome to this episode everyone. My guest today is Jen Thornton. I heard of Jen’s work through one of my connections over the last several months, and reached out to Jen and scheduled the podcast. You do cool work, and I want you to tell everyone what that work is as we get started. I just want to thank you for being here today.

Well, thanks for having me. It’ll be a fun show. Oh, thank you. First of all, tell everyone what you do now, and when you’re doing that, how you got to where you are in your career with the work you’re doing.

Did you always see yourself with this career or doing this kind of work? Let’s just start there. So what I do today is I own 304 Coaching and we’re a leadership education organization. We work with companies to develop talent strategies and then look at how do we deploy those talent strategies through multiple training opportunities, coaching, assessments. We have a portfolio of tools that we use. What’s so funny about that is I grew up in the retail industry, so I started working with people really young, I always wanted to work in the mall when I was little and my dreams came true, I got to work in the mall.

0:02:02.2 S2: And what’s so fun about that is I started making leadership decisions at a really young age. Hiring, scheduling KPI’S, finances, managing payroll budgets, etc. But, I never got my results like anyone else. I always felt like I was the odd person out. Looking back on it, I got it because I was really good at assembling teams and developing teams. I wasn’t competitive like my peers. I just love to think back and how you asked that question “What did I do and how did I get here?” I got here because I get to do what I was always naturally born to do, and that’s really put together incredible teams and allow them to do incredible work. That’s awesome. It’s fun that you were like, I wanna work at the mall, because it probably is in some way in your little girl mine, it was appealing to be working in that mall, which is cute. But, it’s also funny because people are always asking what do you do and describe your skills and your strengths, etcetera. While you were doing it as a younger person, you weren’t saying to yourself “I can manage a budget and I do finance and KPI’s,” you didn’t even know what any of those things were probably, right, you were just doing them.

0:03:11.5 S2: And now, when you’re talking to people or when you’re trying to get a new client or a new role or whatever, you really have to spell out what you are doing. When we were growing up and working in careers, all of those terms, maybe they existed, but they weren’t the norm. So you have to redefine what you were doing, even though you were doing all those same things, but if you don’t say them the right way, people don’t know that you have those skills.

I just was thinking about that when you were describing what you were doing. Yeah, I think you’re right. That was obviously maybe a few decades ago, no reason to disclose ages here today, but after that, I continued to grow, and I did stay in the retail industry. I spent half of my time on the operation side, the other half of my time in HR. Not only did I learn how to manage teams domestically, I had the opportunity to take an assignment in Hong Kong several years ago, and I jumped on the chance and took off to Hong Kong. That started a whole new chapter of my life around international HR. So when I came out of my traditional corporate job and decided to create my own organization, I was actually focusing on international work at that time, which really helps me today, even when I’m working domestically. There’s a lot to try to get a team to function together you had culture differences, you add language, time zones, all of that gets added into the challenges of building high-performing teams and you work internationally.

0:04:41.3 S2: So it taught me a lot. That is for sure. Sorry, that was me. I need it because there’s the train go by sometimes, I actually was in Hong Kong, I… On a business trip on a layover, I never actually got to go into the city, but I remember just calling my Osman and saying, This is the coolest looking, like Just remember flying and landing and that even the airport was cool, but I just remember looking around like this is so interesting. Did you actually spend time there, did you travel back and forth, or did you actually go there for a tomato… I went there for a chunk of time, so my first assignment there, I was there for about five months, and then from there, I moved to Mexico City and did launch a business there, they are probably a good six months. I live in Dallas, it was a quick Mexico City to Dallas as a quick flight back and forth, I came back quite a bit, and then off to London, I went and launched a group there, but as I continued to move to different countries to launch, I maintained my HR group with mats.

0:05:47.2 S2: Yeah, so I spent… I would go to Hong Kong about maybe four or five times a year and spend a few weeks every time I went. So Hong Kong will always have a special place in my heart. It was that assignment that I suggest to that on paper I should have said no to that changed the course of my life. Yeah, that’s the thing, like something was drawing me there and maybe you should have said no to it, but you wanted to say yes, some part you wanted to, and you did. And I think that’s really cool. And that’s interesting. Okay, so as you were building your career and now that you are a coach, Well, to kind of a two-port question, what was keeping you happy, peaceful, content along the way as you were traveling back and forth and going to all these new places, and then how did you decide, Okay, I’m gonna do my own thing. So I think he was keeping me happy and content, ’cause I really did love what I did in my maradona corporate job, because my background was in operations, when I worked in HR, had a very different approach.

0:06:48.4 S2: It was much more of a strategic talent plan approach, it was much more about what are our business objectives and then what does that mean for the talent that we hire and develop, and so I was always working towards the business objectives, I wasn’t there to talk about the policy police type stuff. Some people think about when they think about HR, I was truly a talent strategist, and it’s what I’ve always loved to do. And so I really enjoyed it, especially working internationally and launching new brands, I worked for the same organization for 20 plus years, but the reason that kept me happy as it was a growing organization, so every new project, every new brand, I end up being that person on the new thing. But what I learned about that I was really good in the start-up environment, ’cause those are all startups, even though they were in an existing organization, and today… Again, it’s so funny, I love the way you’re asking these questions is making me think back in in an interesting way that created this passion of mine for startups and what makes a start-up successful, ’cause I watched our startups either fail or succeed, and at the end of the day, it was always about the people.

0:07:54.9 S2: It was always about the team we assembled, and so when I wanted to start my own organization and made the decision to start 3, 04 your businesses never ends up what you think it will be, I thought I was just gonna do some executive coaching, and now we’ve got a huge team, there’s nine of us, and we do all kinds of different things now, but back then, I just really wanted to help people create better communities at work, because I really feel like that makes better communities out in the world. If you feel really good about the work you do, if you feel good that your leaders trust you, respect you on… Are you… And you feel like you’re contributing, you come home and you treat your family about… Or your friends better. Therefore, you build better communities, and so yeah, I just wanted to make sure that in some way I could impact environments, work environments, because there’s a lot of pieces around that that make the world a better place. You are speaking my language. I totally agree, I totally agree. If more people doing the work that you’re doing and more people suggest people meaning corporations that we need this and this is gonna impact our people in all of these following ways, the world would be a better place, and it would be so…

0:09:06.6 S2: What’s the word I’m looking for? I can’t think of it off the top of my head. I wanna ask you really quick, 30, how did you come up with that? What’s the significance of that number? So when I did, I had not left my corporate job, but I had decided to start this business, and an executive I had worked with partnered with previously, she had left, she moved on to a new company and she knew I was gonna do this, so she calls me and she’s like, I need you to pitch to my CEO tomorrow, and it’s like 4 o’clock in the afternoon, I’m like, I don’t even have a name for my business, and she’s like, Well, you better figure it out tonight, and I’m like, Oh my gosh. And so I remember sitting there that night trying to figure out a logo and name, and 304 is my lucky number. It’s a combination of important dates, and so I thought, Well, I’ll just go with my lucky number and hey, it’s been lucky ever since, but that’s how it happened, it was a fun… Yeah, I love you stories because even names or sometimes like…

0:10:04.3 S2: I just remember trying to cop the name for my business, and my husband and I, and I think he was 17 or 16 at the time, one of our younger son, we were brain storming things and what’s important, and the word possibility to me is massively important word which is why it’s part of my book and part of my website and part of my podcast, but I was like, I need to have that in there, and so you start looking up names and then iterations of those words, etcetera. It’s kind of fine to hear the stories behind it, I’m just gonna say this really quick, ’cause I don’t know if I’ve ever told the story before, but my two possibility… And beyond the website, do you remember Toy Story and all those Disney Pixar movies or on Jake when he was a little guy? Three or four, whatever it was all about was white here. And he was like, you to say to infinity and beyond, and that was his big thing, to find a bike, I’m gonna get out there and see the world or whatever, and Jake, he couldn’t say those words if he was three or four…

0:11:00.1 S2: Perfectly, so I used to say, beyond babangida, it’s really cute. But once I hit Pollio worker, my husband called me and said… We were like for weeks… What is he trying to say? He would hold him up and say this with this arm up or like… What is he saying? One day, my husband called me and said, Oh my gosh, I figured out it’s too hot to infinite MBA, and I’m like, Oh, you’re gonna go… When we were naming my company, I was like to possibility in Ben because I thought it was fun to say, anything is possible, and beyond that, if you could believe it and you wanna go forward, it’s in your heart, etcetera, so I just… It’s just a funny too, I don’t think everyone process before, it is fun, that’s what I teasing that we got to share stories today, that’s a taste… I love that. It’s fun. Okay, so next question, What advice… You probably do this all the time because of the coaching business you have, but what advice do you have for someone who’s switching for a meaningful career where they can use their strengths and talents and passion, doing what they love in the world? What do you say to them if it’s what the biggest piece of advice you have…

0:12:00.5 S2: One of the things I always ask is, what did you like doing when you were younger? I always ask people, Tell me about a time you felt successful, tell me about a time you felt good about your work, tell me about your favorite boss, why were they your favorite? And so what I do is I really look for moments of success, and it’s interesting when you lay out moments of success in your life, if you had a big piece of paper and you wrote out all those moments of success and you stood back and you looked at it all… You would find common themes. And so what I like to do is help people find common themes of moments in their life that they were successful, whether that was young, wherever in their career and moment, even if it was just a one-time thing that felt really good versus like a year that you felt really great, but finding those common themes and then do something with those common themes, and you like us looking back today on my career, the common theme was the things that got me in trouble at work are actually the things that make me very successful as a business owner today.

0:13:06.5 S2: And so I used to get in trouble a lot for truth telling executives would ask me their opinion, I would tell them the truth, and then I get called into the principal’s office and be told I shouldn’t be so honest, and I’m like, Well, then you should certainly shouldn’t ask me a question on it, you don’t want me to be honest, and now I get pain as a consultant to be honest, and I’m like, Well, that’s fantastic. I used to get in trouble for it now. People want it. Are you trouble? Because I would not chase numbers just to chase numbers, but I was really methodical about the talent, and I always had long-term success, I never ever missed my last year numbers as a leader when I was on the operation side, but I would fight with my boss about how I was gonna do it, and I’d always have to remind them over the many I had over the years, I’ve never missed my numbers yet, so let me do it my way, and if I miss my numbers, Hey, have a conversation for me. And the things, again, that made people nervous, or I got in trouble for today, I get to deploy in organizations and they’re seeing tremendous success from it.

0:14:09.8 S2: And so that’s what I always tell people, What did you get in trouble for that you love, what were your moments of success, what were you doing, and collect those and look at those themes and then figure out How can you do something with those? Whether that is doing something on your own, whether that’s working for someone, a partnership, who knows what it will be, but yeah. What did you get in trouble for? It’s such a fun question to ask people… Yeah, I love that. It’s a very interesting take and I love, I haven’t heard… Had over 80 conversations now with people on this podcast, and no one’s ever said it in that way. What are the common themes? I don’t think those two words are talked about, so it’s a brilliant way of… So it’s not just one thing, like you said, You know what, tell me about a time when you were successful and what did you love to do when you were younger out solar, but the common themes, because usually you can trade something like you said, a weave them together, and then what could you do with all of that instead of just like, Oh, you like medicine or you wanna…

0:15:08.8 S2: You think you wanna be a doctor to go to school and be a doctor, and then you’ll just do that. It’s like that’s a really linear path, obviously, and that’s a very kind of boring Pat, some people know exactly. That’s what they wanna do, but just because you love medicine, you think wanna be adopted, that doesn’t mean that’s the only thing possible for you, you can weave together other things that go with that theme and open up more possibilities that on kind of stable ly. Yeah, it’s fun and I do always love ’cause what you get in trouble for is probably your edge, The edge is the sharpest side of the blade, and so look at that and what’s possible with your edge? Yeah, I love it. Okay, so is there anything you wish you learned earlier in your life or career… Oh, gosh. Probably a long list of them. Oh gosh, when I think about, again, what I wish I would have known younger in my career, as I wish I would have known it was okay to take risk, I don’t think I took enough risk early in my career, I wish I would have known that innovation and failure go hand in hand.

0:16:17.3 S2: I spent a lot of years being a perfectionist, and where that held me back was I couldn’t innovate, I couldn’t think of new things because I was so worried about getting in trouble, and when I got comfortable with getting in trouble, when I got comfortable with failure, I became much more innovative, and now I don’t risk… Don’t bother me like they did when I was young because… It’s just an opportunity to try something new. It would be fun. Like who knows what will come out of it. Yeah, I wish I would have been a lot more riskier when I was younger in my career. I love that advice. I know that even our older son, he’s in his mid-20s now, just out in the working world, and I think I definitely that generation is more comfortable with the risk and more comfortable saying what they want and asking for what they want and need, etcetera, but in general, I know that younger people are usually more afraid because they’re thinking I have to be perfect to everything this right way and not take that risk, but that’s usually what you obviously, when you have the greatest rewards and it’s…

0:17:23.7 S2: You always learn something from it, and even if it wasn’t, you said the right thing and you failed at it, you’re at a different point in your life because of the thing that you took the risk of, you like you were into Hong Kong and they’re like my paper, I summon I went, whatever it was, but… And also, none of that is ever permanent. So people think, Well, I’m gonna go to Hong Kong and you were afraid to go. Or you were like, Baby, I should have gotten it. You went and it was a great thing for you, but what… And if you went and it was bad, you can come back, you’re not stuck there forever, you’re not stuck in the decision you had you made forever, you’re not stuck with the risk or the failure forever, you just try it and you never know what’s gonna come from it… That’s a good advice. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I just love now looking at things and people ask me a lot, it often, how did you get your business off the ground so quickly, how did you do this, do that, and I’m like, I just wake up every day and just assume it’ll all be okay.

0:18:17.3 S2: It will just be, Okay, I assume, and now I will just figure it out. And so I don’t spend energy, ’cause we only get so much energy a day, and it’s a currency, How am I gonna spend that currency, am I gonna spend it on worrying about stuff, or am I gonna take that same amount of energy and figure it out versus worrying about it, I also wish that I understood that more too, when I was younger, that you do only get so much energy to use your break in a day, and really think about how you deploy that energy, so it’s really moving you forward and not holding you where you are or pushing you backwards, I love that the energy that you have, like you said, you only get so much of it, but the energy that you use will create what you’re thinking about… Right about this on I book too. But in general, if you’re… Like you said, you’re getting up everyday, assuming it’s gonna be… Okay, it probably is 90% of the time, or 99% of the time, right? It’s because that’s what you’re focusing on, and that’s what you’re assuming, if you assume it’s gonna be crappy day, if you assume that your worries are gonna come to you, they do, and they’ll say, Well, look, I was right, they did.

0:19:20.4 S2: That’s ’cause you left, that’s what you were using your energy for, you’re creating your experiences, and I know this is kind of a topic that’s a little bit mood for some people, but you do create your life, you create your experience as you create your environment, and you have complete control over that for yourself and how you’re feeling about it. So yes, why not use those powers and that energy for good… You’re gonna create it. If I’m thinking about it, so think about the good stuff that’s create things is what Mike duly always… He’s the universe to dot com. I don’t know if you know he’s an author too, but your thoughts create things, so why? I think the good ones. Alright, it’s so strange that our brain believes what we tell it, you would think that we’re supposed to believe what our brain tells it, but it’s the other way around, we get to tell our brain what to buy, and so we made… Well, tele, great things and tell it, it’s amazing. So it can be amazing. Yeah, so much power. I wish that’s definitely something I wish I had learned so… So, so much earlier.

0:20:16.0 S2: Yeah. Okay, so final question for you, what is the gift, the best gift that you offer the world every day… This is so hard to think about. I think it’s a newer gift of mine, maybe over the last couple of years, but recently a couple of people have made some comments towards it in a positive way, so I’m gonna assume that it’s a gift that I’ve given them. Is that they can be completely honest without judgment around me, that their thoughts and their feelings are just their thoughts and feelings at that moment, and I’m not there to judge it, I’m just there to hold the space and appreciate it and then help them move to where they wanna be… And yeah, so sort… Two people have said that to me recently. So it’s on top of mind is… Yeah, not judging them. Just being accepting of people. And I think it’s important for people to pay attention to what people are telling you. Like you said, if it’s good, of course, and people are noticing it and you’re hearing from more than one person, even if you hear just from one person, it is a reflection of what you’re offering the world and what you’re giving them, so I think it’s so important to take that…

0:21:35.0 S2: Take that feedback and say, Wow, okay. What I love to do now, my newer thing about feedback, which I learned a couple of years ago, is asking a follow-up question, someone says, This is awesome that you feel not judged and I can hold space for you and you’re comfortable around me. What am I doing that makes you feel that way? Or whatever. So when people give me compliments, now I go back to it and say it ’cause we’re just… Especially when we’re all thanks or not really. Or we kind of push it off. But I do that know what specifically is making you feel that way, or is there a certain word I’m using it, or whatever it is, and usually people are happy to tell you, and they think also with you compliment, they think that that was… You get it already, and sometimes sometimes you’re thankful, but you’re also like, What am I doing that’s making him think that way… And you can do this for negative feedback too, but I think with positive feedback, especially because then it lays it out for you, it tells you what you’re doing so that you can carry on doing that, and then it makes the other person feel good because they get to elaborate on it.

0:22:33.0 S2: So it’s a win-win. Yeah, I love that idea, ’cause we’re never gonna get good at what we’re not good at, so when you focus on those strengths and focus on what people are telling you they appreciate, then that question is such a great question because it allows people to continue to lean into that and get better at it. And that’s when you do your best. Yeah, for sure. So do you work with people? So how can people get a hold of you? Your website, etcetera. Do you work with corporations or people one-on-one, or just corporations to tell people how they can get a hold of you and learn more about what you do, so you can check out our services and learn more about us at 304 You can also connect with me on LinkedIn at Jen Thornton ACC, and we can continue the conversation. And we primarily work with organizations and work with coaching, managers, directors, Executives, C-suite, we have a whole list of options, and then I keep a very small amount of our set aside for individuals, and so in that we do work with individuals and are selective with those, we’re looking for people that really match our views of what is possible in life, very much the people who listen to your show, and when someone’s really wanting to go from good to great and great to the greatest, those are the kind of people we really…

0:23:56.4 S2: save those special spots for… Awesome, awesome. Well, thank you for doing what you do, Jen. It’s important that people view people like you in general, people that are entrepreneurs or people that are just working in corporations are taking this leadership thing seriously and helping people to understand how they can become good leaders and manage their skills, and they go from good degree and love that, or from great to greatest. Everyone wants that, and the bonuses your life gets to be better, or the company that you’re working for, the company that you’re running, or the team that you’re managing, right, everything is better when you’re concentrating on those things, so… Thanks for the work you’re doing and keep doing it. Alright, well, thank you so much for having me. This has been a fun conversation, thank you. So everyone, check out Jens website, 304 coaching dot com, and see how she can help you go from good to great. I love that. Thanks everyone. Thanks, Jen. You show your time. Thank you.

0:25:01.1 S1: Hits for listening. If you lock this content, please rate us five stars on Apple or whichever platform you found is on, and you can get all my social media links in the description below, help us keep the momentum going, so the helper, son who loves their lives happily doing work DIL.

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