Weekly-ish Wisdom from Jennifer Kem

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So I’m gong to let you know now that this is a looong post – get your coffee ready because here comes the tea. 
This was originally a 19 things I learned in 2019 list but as I reflected, I realized that the meta lessons came from a tapestry of experiences from 2009 to 2019 that I felt more valuable to me (and I hope valuable to you) as I wrote in my journal this morning.
I could list every win and loss but I got more out of seeing how much has evolved since then. And holy moly have things really changed in 10 years!
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?. ???? ?? ?-?????? ?????? ???????? ?? ???? from the recession of 2008 and had to liquidate and let go of everything – houses, cars, assets, and most of all, my ego and pride. Moved into my grandma’s (my heart, my greatest mentor) house, and then she died. Got divorced and became a single mom. And that happened all in 4 months.
?. ?????? ???????? ????????? ??? ????????, so much so my diet consisted of Newports and green tea for 6 months and had zero concept of the world around me for the first time ever in my life. Wasted away to about 98 lbs until my 12 year old daughter came outside to where I sat catatonic for those 6 months, on my grandma’s porch, in the small town where I was bullied and didn’t belong to say: “Mommy, you’re Jen Kem – it’s time to wake up now.”
?. ???? ??. ??? ???? – a mix of psychotherapy, medication, sleep support. Asked my “strong friends” how they were rising up and got turned on to a personal development experience that saved my life. Went all in on discovering who Jennifer Kem really is and what I really cared about (since the decade before I really focused on what everyone else cared about).
?. ?????(?) ??? ??????????, ??????? ???????, a brand consulting company and literally knocked on doors, just wanting a $5,000 contract to pay back a loan my mom gave me when I lost everything. I got so many “nos”, “not yets” and “we’ll call yous” – until my last employer who was thrilled I was available as a consultant said – “wait, you’re available?” … and gave me not just that first $5K contract, is now a multi-million dollar account for KemComm.
?. ???????? ?? ????????? ???????? ??? ???? ???????? ???????????, as I knew that there was no fucking way I wanted to be back there again. My executive coach became my first client in what is now Master Brand Institute – which led to working with Steve Harvey, Oprah Winfrey Network, some of the biggest names in personal and business development you see online today, and hundreds of entrepreneurs. Last year, we crossed the 8-figure mark in our business, got featured on Forbes, Inc., Fast Company, etc and most of all, built the most values-driven team my heart could have dreamed of.
?.  ????? ???? ??? ??????????. Married my perfect partner in life and business Nathan J. Francisco aka The Slay-At-Home Dad. Welcomed a new soul into this world, a baby boy who’s made his Filipino mommy’s dreams I never knew I wanted come true. Proudly graduated my brilliant, beautiful and most of all, brave daughters, who are now young women themselves. Learned how to be a better mommy, wife, friend, daughter, sister and woman.
?. ??????? ????? ?????. In the past 2 years, we’ve rented out our homes in Hawaii, moved to the SF Bay Area and absolutely love it here. I was born here, I went to college and post-grad here, and my soul feels at home here – what a privilege it is to be able to call both Hawaii and California home. We’re committed to serving in a different yet what we feel is a more impactful way by Thinking Global and Acting Local. We’ve set up a company headquarters in Walnut Creek called The HerQ, a collective workspace and creative studio for not just our company and campus, but as a “third place” for creative visionaries to grow and gather. We are fully invested in investing in other founders. #StrongerTogether
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When I visioncast I use something we call on our campus ??? ??-?? ?????? (WN-WN stands for “What’s Now and What’s Next) and I look at the 4 major areas of my life that I care about:
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?. ??????-?????? ?????? ????? ????? ????????? ???? – my values are the core determinant of what I say yes to and most importantly, what I say no to. I’ve learned that anything outside of my values are basically this: not worth my time, energy and money. Period. Results: I’m happy and imperfect and it’s awesome to live with this as an everpresent guide. Nothing hurts more than indecision.
?. ?????? ?? ??? #? ???????? ??? ??????????? ?? ?????????? ?? ???? – yes I’m a huge investor in myself, and unapologetically so. The #1 investment I’ve made is in THERAPY not coaching to release the trauma and stories that have held me back. Although coaching has been valuable (and I do recommend it), as a driven woman who wanted happiness so much, it’s in therapy that that happened the most for me, because it focuses on the root causes of my despair and blocks so that coaching can actually work. Key thing is – get a great therapist. I’ve had a lot. There are 2 that moved the needle for me the most – Dr. Suzanne Hammer and Voge Smith.  It’s so important to me that we’ve baked that into our curriculum at Master Brand Institute as a pre-req to any coaching or consulting we do.
?. ??? ?? ???? ?????????? ??? ??????????? ??????? ?? ????? ???????? ??? ??????? – When I got this, whew – the results showed up. It’s so easy to live in the fantasy of what we want, but if we’re not taking daily action, how in the world can we expect our purpose to be fulfilled? God sees dreams, but delivers them when we take responsibility and have grace + patience along the way. It doesn’t work any other way, folks. If you’re in business for yourself like me – I enter the “entrepreneurial gym” daily because it’s my job and responsibility to work on the muscles that make the mission real.
?. ?????????? ?? ???? ??????? ????? ??????? – one of my biggest traumas I had to get real with was the stance I took that “no one really cares about me, so I have to do it all on my own”. Healing that single trauma was an act of Leadership of Self. Once I was committed to healing me, I could better enroll others in the journey, not by force or expectation, but by having shared values in common. Becoming a better leader of self is what success is really made of.
?. ??????? ????? ?? ???? ????? – there have been many many many fleeting thoughts and pain associated with aging to me – and this past decade, I’ve gotten clear that my warrior days are behind me … and I LOVE that warrior woman with all my heart. I have zero shame of the hustle and grind and grit I put in to overcome what’s happened, and I believe it was the necessary rite of passage for me to now do my greatest work – mentoring other women, especially my daughters, to fully embrace their whole and messy selves through demanding autonomy for their choices, bodies, lives. The Wise Woman is more me now, and I’m learning how to be her.
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?. ?? ???? ??? ??? ??????? – Honestly, I hadn’t treated my body the way she deserved the first half of the decade. I defaulted to thinking: “she’ll hang in there, you’re still young enough” and even more concerning “that’s my last priority, I have to make ends meet”. Basically, I was being violent to myself and didn’t even comprehend it. Yet, my body showed me so many signs. An overactive pituitary tumor diagnosed in my 20s scarily re-emerged, making me sick every month, chronic pain in all of my body – the final straw was when I started to feel my left side of my face droop (bell’s palsy) while working with a very toxic client (and some toxic team members) and realized that I was becoming my worst enemy, while my body took the hits. If your body is messaging you – listen. She knows.
?. ??????? ??? ????? – between living in my values and honoring my natural state of energy – which looks like this: I’m introverted (surprising to some, but it’s true), and so I need TONS of quiet, alone time. I want to be invited of course, but showing up is hard for me. I have systems and people in my life that support me in staying in my lane, and I do not question the cost of any of it anymore as it’s what makes me show up as fully as I can. People Hygiene is a thing, and I’m careful with whom I share my wildest dreams and goals with. Not everyone is for you. I learned that lesson HARD this decade.
?. ?????????? ?? ???? ????? ?? ??????? ?? ???? – Instead of hard cardio or massive movement, my body enjoys gentle movement the most – stretching is one of the most important parts of recovery in not just your physical life, but your mental one too. And my Peloton is one of my favorite investments in my body and mind because it’s like getting a Life Coach and Fitness Coach all in one. Plus the BRAND IS FIRE.
?. ?????????? ?? ? ???? ??? ?????? – Besides ignoring the signs my body was begging me to notice, my creativity was also crying out for help. One of the things I’m known for is “I can smell the money in your business” and I’m a badass at strategy and execution so my default is to only share and launch things I knew people needed (hello: brand futurist). But that also meant I was keeping some really cool things from people, and I’m changing that in the next decade. Also: I love art and am welcoming all forms of it into my life moving forward.
??. ???????? ??? ????????? ????? – My gut health and my spiritual health are paramount now, because continuing my value of leadership and legacy require me to honor my body in more loving and scientific ways. I’ve done a full genetic / allergy / body systems panel – found out my areas of most concern are cardiovascular and that I’m really lactose intolerant. Although I miss cheese SO FUCKING MUCH (can I just take a few seconds of silence for it?) it was jacking me up and making me foggy and ADDish and unfocused, and I was avoiding it until late this year when I started working with Dr. Stephanie Estima on my overall health and wellness. The geek in me loves her approach to women’s health because it’s science-based and a protocol that’s custom-built based on my genetic makeup.
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??. ??????? ???????? > ??????? ???????? – Life is a series of moments that can be either enjoyed and appreciated daily, or only on special occasions. This is an area I’ve been trying to do better at, and for me, it’s tied directly to my energetic capacity…so that’s why Health / Energy matters so much (in fact “Healthy” was my word for 2019). When asked how I “do it all”, especially in the realm of being with my loved ones, it comes down to making sure I schedule time and honor it with the people I love. And communicate – this one is key. Being courageous to communicate when I can’t be there but also what I’m committed to in place of it. I am so blessed to have a life partner and spouse in Nathan who co-creates and co-navigates this with me, for 3 healthy children who help me remember who I am through their unique and loving selves, and for finally feeling like I belonged in my family rather than the radical outsider I had made myself believe.
??. ???????? ?????? ??????????? – I have a long-standing story with my relationship to other women – the best way to get the low-down on all of that is to listen to my podcast Femmefluence Radio, which launched #1 last year (woo hoo) and I’ve taken a break from to prepare for the next season, which will feature women who model Femmefluence fully to me and whom I think we can all learn something from, regardless of our beliefs and values. And my most important investment in Femmefluence for me is the time I’ve spent with my S(QUAD), my 3 nearest and dearest sisterfriends (Jadah Sellner / Nikki Elledge Brown / Nicole Walters) who are moms, entrepreneurs and living their lives as imperfectly as I do. Through my friendship with these 3 women individually and as a collective, I’ve discovered not just how much we have in common, but also that we don’t have to have all the same ideas/beliefs/responses while still talking about it honestly and lovingly.  TBH it was scary to be so invested in this way because I’ve lost friends in the last decade too. But they’re worth finding and nurturing and there have been so many beautiful other friendships I’ve had the honor to be in this past decade as well, and I want to create more connection and support in this area moving in to the new year. #LetsBeFruitfulFriends.
??. ????? ??????? ??????????? ????? – It’s been almost 4 years since I lost my dad to cancer and his greatest gift to me besides playing a part in bringing me into this world was one of his last words to me which was “Jenny, what are you waiting for?” That was his response when I was painting a verbal illustration of my goals for my career and impact, but also inserted a lot of the excuses of why I hadn’t done them yet. My dad wasn’t perfect but he was mine and he was also the biggest supporter of my dreams. As a result of his transition, #WhatAreYouWaitingFor has been our mission in our company and in my life, and allowing myself to feel this loss, grieve it (still daily) and yet still rise and love and forgive has been one of the clearest gifts given to me this past decade.
??. ??/??/???? ?? ?????? ????????? – Anyone like me and have a ton of things you tolerate? Every quarter I do a list called “What am I Tolerating?” and am always surprised at what comes up on the page. Tolerations are a form of penalty against yourself and are basically a muzzle on your mission work. I’ve been guilty of listening to others tell me “why are you bringing up that social justice stuff – you’ll isolate people in your audience?” and also tolerated relationships with “influencers” and “online leaders” for a hot second so I could be liked and invited. I’ve hired people who’ve stolen from me, did mediocre work that I paid for that they brought to competitors, and had people say one thing to me and then talk shit about me behind my back. Especially this past decade! With that came anxiety, comparitis, trauma triggering and lots of unnecessary mental gymnastics. Most of this came in the form of people who didn’t belong in my inner sanctuary. I even removed myself from a group where toxic behavior wasn’t just tolerated, it was encouraged, even though I had invested more than $30K in it. Letting Money dictate what I tolerate is no longer a thing. And remember People Hygiene? It’s also a thing. The greatest gift from learning this lesson are the incredible people who have become dear friends, colleagues and trusted advisors.
??. ??? ???????? ?? ?????????? – Basically it all comes back to being values-driven and being a leader of yourself – because when you do, you can drink the nectar of your badassery through the loving boundaries you’re confident to communicate. Boundaries aren’t an edge; they’re a softening, a way to teach you to move through conflict and emerge whole on the other side, especially with the ones you love. I’m not saying it’s easy, and it can open wounds and cause defensiveness (I lost a close friendship this year over this very issue) but it’s worth it because you’re worth it and they’re worth it.
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??. ??? ??????? ?? ??????? – in 2018 our company did 8-figures in revenue, which is my 2nd company to do that in the last 14 years since I jumped off the corporate cliff and designed a life that I set my mind to. In order to do all of it (and most of all, recover from the massive setbacks, disappointments, and losses) I’ve had to become a master of releasing. I’ve had help (see #2) but I’m going to give myself a high five and say: “girl, YOU did that shit.” I had to make hard decisions, including releasing team members (in 2017 there was a major coupe in my business where 4 team members stole from and sabotaged our company and have continued to bad mouth us to people/former clients, etc) … and yet in 2018 we had an 8-figure year after I cleanly let them go. That’s not to say we didn’t have some good times and great results together too, which is part of the duality of any relationship, business is no different. It’s made me a better leader. Frankly – this decade and the online business space has created a real problem for entrepreneurial leaders – the entitlement, the out-of-bounds expectations, the FRAGILITY. OMG the fragility. Yo, a small business needs to run itself like a business and if your team doesn’t have a structure and responsibilities your leadership is an issue. Clients/Customers can also cause this problem and if they can’t handle your honesty, it’s probably not a fit.
??. ????-??????? > ????-???? – No one is self made and I certainly am not. After the debacle in 2017 we tightened up our people, processes and products to align fully with our values; I fired myself from pretty much everything except for speaking, teaching, consulting and leading the company through vision and strategy (my areas of strength). We hire self-starters on our team who understand how they operate as part of the greater whole and appreciate the flexibility that comes from being an intrapreneur in an entrepreneurial company. Just because I’m the founder doesn’t make me immune to the responsibilities we have as a company to not just be profitable (we’re feeding families here!) but to also show up daily in the business. Also, where there’s been an opportunity to invest in someone’s growth, I chose that instead of hired outsiders. Sarah Paikai and her extraordinary work ethic, high values and loving leadership has made this work more meaningful to me (ask her, when I’ve thought about quitting, she’s my north star of what’s possible when you’re willing to forgive and heal while being a badass Queen), This philosophy also shapes the way we train and consult leaders on our campus because the Self Starters in Us Honors the Self Starters in Them.
??. ??????? ????? > ?????? ????? = ??????? – If you asked me what was the biggest mistake I made in 2008-9 it comes down to 2 things: 1) I didn’t listen to the warning signs from my CFO and financial advisor who told me to hold my retail expansion because a recession was coming (lesson: you can be a rebel and focused on what you want, but when someone is more qualified than you, it’s a good idea to shut up your ego and listen) and 2) I waited too long because of #FilipinoShame to liquidate – not because of business, but because of what I thought my Mom would think of me. #truestory In the past decade, I’ve worked to remedy this leak inside of me – the story that “it’s never enough” paired with “I can rise like the Phoenix if I lose it all again.” Sure I can, but do I want to lose it all again? Nope. So call me an Eagle not a Phoenix and be clear that my cash reserves are healthier than the past decade and our profit margins are above 60% because I’m here for the long haul. Keeping and growing money is my main goal even though I’m “better” at making money. Except when it comes to shoes and crystals. I don’t limit myself there (and they’re a write-off now because I use them when I’m speaking sooooo….still keeping my money). 😉
??. ?????? ???? ??????? ??? ?????? ?????? – The same financial advisor I had in 2009 is the same one I have now – because he was right and I had to get hit in the head, gut, heart and soul to listen. Point is, some mentors are worth always having, especially the ones who care enough to tell you the damn truth. In the past 2 years, I’ve limited the outside counsel I receive from anyone unqualified to give me advice – and this is a lesson for you because too many times we get advice and mentorship from people we don’t need in this season or ever. In order to “get this”, I’ve spent 100s of thousands in masterminds, retreats, coaching, consulting and of all of it I can honestly say there are only a handful that have been life-changing for me. But here’s the rub: without this investment in time, energy and money I’d never discover what ACTUALLY works for me. I regret nothing in these investments, whether they’ve produced fruit or not because I’m better for it (and there have been relationships built in them that have been incredible).  I’m sure there are people who think working with me wasn’t what they expected either, and I’ve had to remember that their worldview is different from mine. Their values are different than mine. But for those whose values are aligned (the self-starters, the messengers, the “Others”) I’m your huckleberry. Remember People Hygiene? It’s a thing.
??. ??????????? ?????? ??? ??????? – You know what economic factor was the #1 contributor to the recession of the 2000s? Besides corporate greed (hello Enron and Worldcom and AIG), this factor preyed on the very heart of many people’s “first world dreams”: Home Ownership. The product that hurt people the most (and had a direct effect on small business owners like me)? Giving loans to people not qualified to get them. And now I see the same trend happening in the digital “ownership” space. Basically: SOCIAL MEDIA IS THE NEW SUB-PRIME LOAN. That means everyone is qualified based on a perception and construct that is equivalent to the Emperor’s New Clothes story. It’s causing mental illness and spiritual bypassing and so many other things. That’s why when asked how I fly above it (remember the Eagle?) it’s because from the very beginning of Master Brand Institute, we’ve built a strong brand platform and business operations that integrate both digital and analog strategies so that can be as recession-proof as possible (and we teach our clients how to do the same). If you’re not doing both, and yet want to have a “lifestyle brand” – I urge you to implement an aligned strategy in this next decade. But don’t take this as just philosophy or theory. We’ve created 10s of millions in revenue for ourselves and clients without being greedy assholes. So there’s that part. #WhatAreYouWaitingFor
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You know, the radical notion that I’m whole and complete even if I have perforations, scars, human moments, and fuck up here, there and everywhere at times. Bringing wholeness (which includes some messiness) to my dreams, goals, relationships, self. TAKING UP ALL THE SPACE and inviting The Others to do the same. Creating more high-value things for as many people I can reach and help (instead of overthinking). Continuing to be unapologetic about my values: autonomy / justice / generosity / leadership / legacy. Be kinder to myself while being a stand for what I believe in. Investing in women, projects and for-benefit organizations I believe in. Bringing my full #Femmefluence to the world.
♥ Hey 2020s – #sheready. ♥

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