This is my good friend Jess. Jess and I don’t actually *know* each other, at least not in person. We met online. We were in the throes of our weight loss journeys right around the same time and bumped into each other a lot on the Weight Watchers message boards. Soon after that, Jess began writing a weight loss blog, which I began religiously reading. And soon after that, I started blogging about my weight loss journey too. And the rest is history! We’ve been blog and email buddies for years, all thanks to our efforts to be healthier people.
As you may imagine, there’s an amazing community of internet-savvy women who are trying to lose or who have lost a great deal of weight. I’ve gotten to *know* a handful of these ladies over the years and it’s been such a positive experience. When you’re really heavy and trying to lose what seems to be an unimaginable amount of weight, it’s very easy to feel misunderstood in your day to day life. Your husband or boyfriend / wife or girlfriend probably doesn’t understand. Your parents probably don’t understand. Your friends are probably mostly slender, or at least have bodies you’d kill to have, no matter how much they like to complain about their thighs. So to use the internet to find one person, let alone dozens, who can not only relate to exactly how it feels to be you, but who can also offer hints and tricks, a shoulder to cry on, motivation by example, or who will lend an ear about any subject is invaluable while on the journey from overweight to healthy.
Jess has been one of those people for me over the years. I go to her blog first thing every workday, eager to read about her recent experience with exercise, the fancy dinner she cooked last night, any boy stuff that’s going on in her life and anything and everything in between. She inspires me, makes me laugh and is wise beyond her years.
Jess’ weight loss blog is private, but she also keeps a running blog called See Jess Run about her experiences as a runner. And a lifestyle blog called Chicks on Chicks, which she writes with a girlfriend.
Her answer to the payday questions follow:
1. How do you earn a paycheck?
I work for a company called PRN (Premier Retail Networks). We produce television programs that play at retail — the company is based in California, but Best Buy is a client, which is why they hired me. I live and work out of my home in Minneapolis and manage the Best Buy account (BBY is headquartered here). We operate just like a normal television network: we hire Neilson each year to do a viewership study, sell advertising, and have a diverse mix of programming (sports, entertainment, nature, etc. It’s an interesting job for me, because my background is in retail marketing and event marketing… this is very different.
2. Do you enjoy what you do to earn a paycheck?
Yes. I love the people I work with, and my clients are great. I have the best boss in the world. I love officing out of my home, because it gives me the flexibility to live a balanced life and accomplish my other, non-work goals. I lost 60 lbs and trained for a marathon mostly because of the flexibility of this job. Right now I struggle with the fact that my job is more technical than creative, but hopefully that will change soon! I like that I have a ton of responsibility and get to work directly with one of the biggest retailers in the world. The work I do can be seen on a daily basis in pretty much every major city in the US, and that’s kinda cool. But I do have a daily conversation with myself where I ask, “Do I love the JOB? Or do I love the LIFESTYLE that the JOB allows?” I’m still trying to figure that out.
3. How did you get the job?
Oddly, on Monster.com! I was working for Musicland at the time (Sam Good, Suncoast stores), which used to be owned by Best Buy. We were rolling out a similar program in Sam Goody, with a competitor of PRNs. I was on the roll-out team. So when I saw this job posting, it seemed to perfect — very few people have the specific experience becasue it’s such a niche industry, and I had it all. The man who became my boss basically offered me the job during the interview. We clicked.
4. Did you go to college and if so, what did you study?
Yep. I went to Lawrence University in Appleton, WI, I started as a music major, and ended up with an English lit degree. Really, I majored in extra-curricular activities.
5. If you could have any job in the whole entire world, assuming you’d instantly, miraculously possess the the training, opportunities, and expertise to excel at it, what would you do?
I’d be Britney Spears. I’m only sort of kidding. When I was a kid, music was my passion and my life, and I thought FOR SURE I’d be a pop star / actress someday. On some days, that still appeals to me (Usually those days involve a lot of booze and karaoke night). I think I’d be a therapist. Or a writer / columnist. But one that was really successful so that I didnt have to change my lifestyle in terms of financial needs.
6. If you didn’t have to earn a living – money was no object, but you had to be productive for 8 hours a day, what would you do?
My first reaction was to say “I’d write,” but I don’t know if I could do that for 8 hours each day. I think I would probably love to be a writer / columnist, and be at the stage of my life where I was also a wife / mother. THat would allow me the flexibility to do something I’m passionate about, and also “run the family,” the way my mom did. Soccer mom.
7. What are your hobbies and interests?
Reading, writing, decorating, cooking, weight loss / nutrition topics, running, taking the time to care for my friends and family.
8. How do you spend your free time?
At the gym, working on my house, cooking…
9. What do/did your parents or guardians do to earn livings?
My parents ran a small medical device distribution company together for the majority of my childhood, and my mom was the office manager. The same year I went away to college, my dad went back to get his MBA and also started working for a major medical device company — in sales & marketing. My mom stopped working outside of the home at that point (they closed their business), and focused on volunteering and what I call “running the family.” My dad rose very quickly through the ranks of a huge corporation, Guidant, and ultimately became the EVP of sales. He brokered a deal for Johnson and Johnson to buy Guidant, which ultimately didn’t happen (Boston Scientific bought them instead), and at that point he took an early retirement. But he “flunked retirement” and got another job as the CEO of a medical startup company, Neochord. Mom still runs the family. And with 3 grandparents in their 90s, and a new grandchild, that’s a pretty big job. I think she works harder than he does.
10. What was the conversation or climate surrounding work and work ethic in your home when you were growing up?
Interesting question. Because my parents owned their own business, I grew up in a very enterpreneurial environment — and I’ve always wanted to be a business owner myself (I think that’s why I love my current job — all of the joy of self-employment, none of the risk). I had a very strong work ethic — I WANTED a job, and had to argue with my parents to allow me to get my first job when I was about 14 years old. I wanted to work, and I wanted my own money. Oddly, I was only a mediocre student, but I ALWAYS excelled at my jobs.
11. How does your family feel about how you earn a living today?
They feel very good about it, but they know it doesn’t fulfill me spiritually or in terms of feeling like I do something that “Matters.” I think my family is always very interested / curious in what I’ll do next — because I’ve had A LOT of jobs.
12. Do you have siblings and if so, what do they do for a living? Do you have a personal reaction to what they do, like maybe you’re envious or inspired?
My brother, Marc, is also in the business world. He actually works for a company that is exercise / weight-loss focused. I am not envious of the volatile nature of working for a medical start-up company, but his work is focused on a topic I’m incredibly passionate and knowledgable about so yes, I have a lot of envy in that area.
13. Generally, what time do you go to sleep? What time do you wake up?
I am an early bird… I get in bed around 10 and watch the news, and fall asleep. Because I don’t have to commute (other than shuffling across the halway to my home office), I do not set an alarm on most mornings. But I wake up naturally around 6:30 / 7, assuming I am well rested. I love this part of my lifestyle because it sets the tone for me to feel good and be productive each day.
14. Do you want to leave your current job for something different? If so, can you imagine yourself doing this? If so, will you do it?
I’m trying to figure this out right now, as I’m staring down the nose of a pretty intense job offer. That’s all I can really say at this point, other than to sum up my decision by saying… I am not as motivated by money as I once was, and I’m not sure that a big paycheck could “Buy” the quality of life I currently have. In other words.. I’m not sure I’m willing to give up the flexible lifestyle and balanced life for more money. It is weighing very heavily on my mind right now.
15. What is more important to you in a job? a big paycheck or personal fulfillment.
Good question. See above. I know that personal fulfillment is more important to me, however, I”m at the point in my career where a bigger paycheck / better title could set the stage for some very amazing things that would lead to a lot more long-term personal fulfillment… Also, I don’t know that you always have to choose… maybe I WON’T be miserable working in an office again. Maybe I won’t be unhappy having to get up early and commute. I just don’t know. But these are the decisions that keep me awake at night… I’ve never been afraid of change before (I’ve thrived on it), and suddenly I feel paralyzed by it. And it sucks.
16. Do you think your idea of personal success has changed since you were 10 years old? 18 years old?
Yes and no. I grew up thinking that success was defined by money, and I still believe that’s partially true, but only under certain conditions — ie, all the money in the world doesn’t matter if you are miserable, have nobody to share it with, and spend your entire life working at a job you hate. I define success as happiness & fulfilment, but I also think… le’ts be real, you’ve gotta pay the bills, and I’ve grown accustomed to a life that includes vacations, nice things, dinners out, and not having to freak out about every dime.
17. When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I went through phases — but the one that I always come back to is that I wanted to be a performer. Mostly I wanted to sing. And in my life now, I’ve found nontraditional ways of doing that. For example, I might not be on a stage, but I “perform” everytime I pitch to my clients. I”ll perform on Monday when I speak at a memorial service. I perform when I help counsel women in a support group I run as volunteer work. KWIM?