Jennifer Milius had a long corporate career but swapped it in midlife for being an author, motivational speaker and coach. She shares her inspirational story.
1. What made you decide to do what you do?
I am a storyteller and people whisperer, which means I’m an author, motivational speaker and leadership and career coach. The transition from corporate life to entrepreneurial life was gradual and unplanned to some extent. In 2011, I had an inner nudge, a niggle if you will, to take some poems I wrote about our two real life, brother and sister tuxedo kitties to a publisher to see if they could be turned into children’s books. Although he responded with a soft no answer, I realized I had to keep going. After a couple of years of searching for the right illustrator and publisher, I connected with one in 2014 and later that year, published the first two books in the Einstein and Moo series. During 2014, I was working with the publisher while continuing my corporate job until another inner nudge guided me to leave that arena and start my own business.
2.Why did you wait until you did to do it?
Since I was a child, I enjoyed writing and reading, but as I got older, more of my writing was for business and not creative, unless it was in my journal. When our family adopted Einstein and Moo in 2009, and as we got to know them and see their personalities shine through, I started making up stories from their point of view. After a while, I began to put the idea to paper, get feedback, and seek a publisher and illustrator. At the same time, I found myself more excited by this new path, so when the opportunity presented itself to focus on the books and step away from the corporate world, I did.
3.What are you hoping to accomplish?
In each aspect of my business, my goal is to leave a positive, lasting influence that encourages people to be the best they can be. Each time I hear a child tell me how they love an animal or want to write, my heart leaps. When I do a speaking engagement or coaching session and the group or individual feels encouraged, inspired to take a positive action or reassured that they are on the right path, I feel as though I served my purpose.
4.How did you make the change? What or who helped you?
A few months before the first book was published, I was very focused on how I was going to share these books I was so passionate about. I was excited to get them in front of as many people as I could simply because I loved our fur babies so much that I wanted to share that joy with others. The desire to see how far I could go with the books was what helped me to jump with both feet. So with the love, encouragement and support of my husband, we made the transition for me to fully invest in running my business.
5.How did your family and friends react?
They were supportive and encouraging, especially my husband, stepdaughter and parents. In fact, I have a collage of encouraging and inspiring cards and messages on one wall in my office, and each card or message is from a loved one that essentially was saying, “I believe you! You’ve got this!” It’s my daily reminder that I am on the right path.
6.How has your life changed having gone down this path?
Since then, I published four more books and I’m working on a fifth book to release this fall. Additionally, I expanded my business to include motivational speaking, and recently, leadership and career coaching, both are activities I did informally (and enjoyed doing) in my corporate life. Transitioning from the corporate world into the entrepreneurial world has been a huge leap of faith, but I can look back and see how my path helped prepare me to do what I am doing right now.
7.What advice do you have for women considering a similar life change?
Listen to that inner voice and trust it. It’s small and still, but it’s there to help you. If you are in a committed relationship, talk with your partner. When it’s a healthy relationship, that person is one of your greatest advocates, outside of yourself. Remember that it takes courage and confidence to do anything where you put yourself out of your comfort zone, but you have gifts that only you can share, so be willing to dig deep and confidently and courageously share those gifts – share you by letting your light shine brightly.
8.What are you proud of and what keeps you inspired?
I see the silver lining in every circumstance, and that ability and positive thinking keeps me inspired with each new situation. For my business, it helps me to identify the “How” when it may not be clear at first.
9.What do you love most about being the age you are?
I’m old enough to be a good sounding board, yet relatable to those younger than I.
10.What do you hate most about being the age you are?
Nothing – age is just a number and each year has had its own experiences that helped me to be where I am and who I am, so I’m thankful.
11.What do you know now that you wish you’d known in your twenties?
It’s ok to not have it all figured out and to trust there is a greater plan that has your highest and best good in mind.
12.What are the most important business and/or personal lessons you’ve learnt along the way?
I believe that there is something greater than all of us that keep us connected. For me, I call that energy God while some may say “the universe”. The most important lesson I’ve learned is that God has a much better plan that I could ever dream up, so when I don’t understand why something is happening or why something didn’t pan out like I hoped, I focus on the fact that there’s something better coming. Sometimes things have to dismantle in order to make room for the new, which can be scary, yet it may be the best thing for us to move forward and thrive.
13.Do you have a mantra that has guided you more than any other?
Embrace your strengths and talents rather than minimize or hide them. You are meant to shine.
14.Which woman do you most admire and why?
My mom. I love and admire her for so many reasons, but one of her most beautiful qualities is her compassion for others. She’s been a caregiver to so many, and I believe that gift requires a quiet strength. There is a patience, gentleness and inner fortitude that I believe need to all be present in order to be compassionate and care for others, and she demonstrates them with grace.
15.Is there anything people consistently misunderstand about you?
I am outgoing and work very well with large groups of people leading many to believe that I am an extrovert, but I am truly an introvert at heart 🙂
16.How can Mutton Club readers find out more about what you do?
To learn more about my books and me, please check out my website.