I learned about Jess through her podcast, The Art of Speaking Up -- and it didn't take long before I felt like I knew her, and it wasn't much longer before I knew I just had to reach out to her for a feature piece to learn more about her podcast and thoughts about women & confidence.
Read on to get her thoughts on authenticity, fear and handling gender bias while remaining empowered!
Jessica, your podcast is all about empowering women to speak up - when did you start the podcast and what motivated you?
I started the podcast in late 2018, and it was inspired by my own struggles with self-confidence throughout my career. From the time I started my first ‘real world’ job, I felt a sense of not being good enough for my job, and this belief about myself really impacted the way I was showing up professionally.
I started the podcast because I wanted other women who were experiencing this to know that they aren’t alone, and that even though struggling with confidence can be incredibly difficult, it’s also a struggle that we have the power to change.
What surprised you the most about starting a podcast?
How hard it is! Yes, it’s been very special and fun – but I also didn’t realize how scary it would be to share myself, my stories, and my voice so openly. It’s pretty meta, because my show is all about the struggle to feel confident speaking up, and while I was creating the show, I really struggled with speaking up so publicly as the host of the show.
But I actually think this all happened as a reason – it served as a valuable reminder to me of what it feels like to be afraid. And I think this helped me connect with my audience on a deeper level, because fear is at the core of so many topics that I address on the show.
You had an episode about authenticity and you shared that it’s one of your favourite topics. Why is it important for women to be and feel authentic at work?
I believe authenticity is our lifeblood – our source of energy, happiness, and fulfillment. It saddens me that there is so much professional development content out there that fails to focus on authenticity. I think that it’s something that not only makes us feel amazing, but I actually believe that it’s one of our strongest points of leverage for achieving high performance. When we feel free to show up as we are, we can unleash the most of what we have to offer (while having more fun doing it).
After authenticity, what’s your next favourite topic and what was your most powerful realization about that topic?
I LOVE talking about fear! Which is funny, because it’s not a very fun or positive topic, but at the same time, I find it very fascinating.
It seems like almost every struggle I’ve experienced, at some level, has boiled down to fear. Which leads me to believe that if we can improve our ability to be with and manage fear, we can open up so many doors for ourselves (in our careers and in our lives as a whole)
There’s a lot of discussion about the importance of women speaking up and being more confident, but there’s also pushback saying that it’s not fair to put all the work on women when there is real gender bias in the workplace. What do you think about this debate?
I could talk about this for hours – this is such an important and complicated topic, and I have so many thoughts on it.
Yes – it isn’t fair to put all of the burden on women (and other underrepresented populations)
At the same time, I personally find it very empowering to take things into my own hands, and focus on what I can control. For me, when I come from a place of “what is possible?” I feel way more energized than when I focus on what is not working. So I tend to focus on the inner experience of the individual, and how that can be leveraged to create change.
That being said, we can’t ignore systemic issues, because if we do, then marginalized populations will be left behind, regardless of how much inner work anyone does. So I think we need a healthy balance of both.
If I could wave a magic wand and you could change ONE thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?
I’d love for that magic wand to help every woman see how incredible she truly is, and help her let go of her falsely perceived ‘shortcomings.’
I work with women who feel impostor syndrome and who are being given impostor messages, for example when women see that it’s mainly men getting promoted, it’s a silent message that women don’t belong in leadership in their company. What’s the biggest impostor message you’ve come across? What advice do you have for getting past it?
For me, a lot of it has come from seeing those few women at the top, and actually feeling like they are very different from me. Not seeing women at the top who are openly embracing their wild femininity and the quirks of who they are. I see men having way more space to be offbeat and quirky, and women still being forced to conform to a very vanilla persona. For me – as someone who is weird, quirky, creative, feminine, and so much more – I find it hard sometimes to truly believe that all of these pieces are welcome.
One of my favourite things is book recommendations - what’s ONE book you’d recommend for every professional woman to read?
Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck was insanely good. It’s all about finding purpose, confidence, and fulfillment in life. Martha Beck is Oprah’s life coach, and her work is so, so good.
Who do you love following online? What are your favourite blogs or Instagram accounts?
One of my absolute favorites is Katie Dalebout (@katiedalebout on Instagram). She has two podcasts – one called Let It Out, which focuses on largely on mental and emotional wellness, and one called Spiraling, which is all about living with anxiety. Both are absolutely wonderful.
For mindset content, I love Kathrin Zenkina’s podcast Manifestation Babe. Hearing her voice makes me smile and her mindset content is solid, whether you’re into woo woo manifestation stuff or not. Her Instagram is @manifestationbabe.
Jess is really amazing and her podcast should be at the top of your 'to listen' list! You can find her podcast here and you can follow her on Instagram @theartofspeakingup.