A Conversation with Jen Petro – Part 2

Experiences, Pearls of Wisdom, Podcast

Don’t Cut Your Own Bangs Episode 23

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Danielle I. : Just a friendly reminder that these are conversations intended for adults and there is the potential from time to time for the conversation to lean into adult subject matter or adult language.

Danielle I. : Hello, this is Danielle Ireland with Season 3 of Don’t Cut Your Own Bangs and this is the second half of my conversation with Jen Petro. I have been loving this conversation so much. I hope you can feel that through this interview. She is such a lovely and wonderful person and I enjoyed every second of my time with her. So without further ado- Here is Jen Petro.

Jen Petro: So I know what we were talking about.

Danielle I. : Okay.

Jen Petro: Empowering women by sharing the fact that I had no idea what I was doing.

Danielle I. : Oh right.

Jen Petro: No background in business and I did it anyway, and it turned out okay. So I think a lot of times people just need to hear that it’s okay because I think there are all these assumptions we make. We look at someone who’s a successful business owner. It’s like, I bet they have an MBA. I bet they came from an entrepreneur family. I bet they had a butt load of money to start this with and I had none of those things.

Danielle I. : Well and to speak to the MBA. So I have an acronym after my name because that’s what I legally need in the state to be a registered and licensed therapist. But I will tell you in terms of my confidence, it did nothing. It didn’t do it. Oh man. It was an esteemable act to say that I was going to do this thing and then I followed through for myself. So it certainly increased self esteem, but it did not make me any more confident to like be like, “Yeah, I have this thing.” And it’s very important. Like I thought it would though. And I think that that is the elusive nature of all of this stuff.

Jen Petro: For sure.

Danielle I. : It’s like when I get this, when I have this much money in the bank, when I have this relationship, when I have this much, this or this, this, this, then I’m going to feel the thing that I’m supposed to feel. And it doesn’t come from that.

Jen Petro: So true.

Danielle I. : Yeah.

Jen Petro: So true. A lot of people will say to me, “I’ll started a business. I really am going to do it, but I got to wait until my kids are out of the house.”

Danielle I. : No.

Jen Petro: Or I got to wait until this or that. Yeah. So I hear that a lot from people.

Danielle I. : Well and that’s where I’m exploring this idea of, again, permission, perfection, procrastination. They almost feel like, no one can see this, but I’m holding my index finger and thumbs together like a triangle. So it’s like, I don’t know if it’s a linear one… I don’t know what one comes before the other, but they feel like they feed each other. It’s like, I can’t get started until I have this, and when I’m perfect at this, then I’ll have permission to try this. But if I’m not perfect at this, then I’m going to hold… It’s such a nasty tangly web.

Jen Petro: Yeah, I agree. And I think you come up with the next excuse then because that’s really what it is. Even though we don’t necessarily mean it as that, but you reach a certain point and you say, “Okay, but now I’ve got to wait until this,” or, there’s some other issue or something that’s in the way and I think excuse. It’s just our fear talking.

Danielle I. : 100%.

Jen Petro: It’s just fear, fear, fear.

Danielle I. : Yes, and God fear is so boring.

Jen Petro: Fear is so boring. But it’s so wicked. It’s loud. It is loud.

Danielle I. : That’s the right word.

Jen Petro: Fear is like Sydney’s bark. It just shrieks at you. Yep.

Danielle I. : Well, okay, so to get back to you launching into being the CEO of your own marketing company. So that wasn’t your plan, but how did that… And I think one of the things I’ve really appreciated about your story too is that it’s different than maybe like some of the stories I’ve shared before or even my own, where I did hit this threshold where I was like, “I cannot continue doing this thing that I’m doing without an exit plan any longer.” That was definitely my journey. It sounds like you loved what you did. And so tell me more about what that looked like to love what you’re doing, and then still take that step away.

Jen Petro: Yeah, so for me it came out of wanting to be home more with kiddos. So I had two little kiddos at the time and, I mean, I had already started the business as the quote unquote, side gig, right? So I was doing it in the weekends and evenings a little bit, maybe working like five hours a week or something. But then once I had two kiddos, I realized that I needed to shift something because it was going to be too much time to do both. And so that’s when I stepped away fully and went all in I would say. But I was still running it as a side gig.

Jen Petro: My husband had a full time job. I didn’t expect to ever really do it more than just as a side thing. But this happens to so many entrepreneurs, an event happens that kind of precipitates or forces you into taking the plunge. Right? So that’s what happened. My husband lost his job and all of a sudden we found ourselves going, “Huh, this is interesting.”

Danielle I. : Terrifying.

Jen Petro: So I started running a little harder, and by that I just mean, really being proactive with seeking out clients and things like that. Because in the past I had just sort of waited for referrals and word of mouth kind of stuff. But I went after some work and it started to grow slowly. But again, I kept thinking my husband’s going to get another full time job and then I’ll go back to maybe just doing this as a side gig.

Jen Petro: Long story short, he gets into a major health crisis. Financially, my business is growing, as it needed to, to support us and then the next thing we knew, it was like we literally, this sounds dumb, but we looked at each other one day and it’s like, “Whoa. This is supporting our family.” I never expected that to happen and I was loving it. That’s the other thing I didn’t necessarily expect to happen. I think a lot of that comes from the mom guilt thing of just assuming like, my kids are little, I really should be attending to them at home. They should be 100% of my time. Obviously, I do attend to them, but that that should be all I’m doing. Right?

Jen Petro: And so realizing, wait, I’m doing this thing, I’m loving what I’m doing. It’s supporting our family. I’m still being a good mom. Like I think this is okay. That’s sort of how it transitioned, how it grew. And so I was the sole provider for five years with the business. And that is again, nothing that I ever imagined. If you would’ve asked me early on, “What do you think about starting a business? Being the sole provider.” I would have thought, “Hell no.” Like hell no, I won’t like doing that. But also that I just wouldn’t be able to do it. Like, I didn’t have what it took.

Danielle I. : It’s almost like, it’s as much as we wish that we could have that crystal ball that would be able to just show us what everything will become. I think that that’s such a powerful point that you made that like, no, no, no. Because you’re not where you’ll be in five years and you may crumble under the weight of what you think that will be.

Jen Petro: Right.

Danielle I. : And so, because it was one foot in front of the other, one step at a time. Just to like really highlight the fact that you… Your husband lost his job, life as you knew it… I mean, because that can send people into a real dark place.

Jen Petro: Oh yeah. I mean, depression’s a huge part of his story and we’re very open about that. So he spiraled into a deep, dark depression. Then went through a physical health crisis that was terrifying on top of that. And so, yeah. And I honestly think had those things not happened, I don’t know that I would’ve ever grown the business. Like, I don’t know that I would have ever really gone after it in such a way that it could have blossomed the way it did. So I’m thankful for that.

Danielle I. : That pressure.

Jen Petro: Yeah.

Danielle I. : Pushed you forward.

Jen Petro: I was forced into it, which I think is the only way that I, personally, would have had the guts to do it.

Danielle I. : Thank you for acknowledging that because I think we put a lot of pressure on bravery and being brave.

Jen Petro: Sure.

Danielle I. : And I’m not saying that bravery is not a part of your journey. I think that even having the humility to recognize that, had it not been something I had to do, like sometimes like surviving.

Jen Petro: I was just going to say I did it out of survival.

Danielle I. : Survival is the brave thing, and I fall into this trap too where it’s almost like, even though we have this evolved definition that bravery is feeling fear and knowing fear, and doing it anyway. It’s like, I mean sure. That’s a very evolved, very 2019. And I don’t know, maybe 2018, way of looking at bravery. But I think that that discredits, some days it’s just putting one foot in front of the other.

Jen Petro: That’s right.

Danielle I. : And one step at a time.

Jen Petro: That’s right. And luckily I loved what I did so much that, I mean I’ve said before, that work was a lifeline. Like I think work literally, like growing the business, not only did it provide for our family financially, but I think it helped me keep my head above water in times that were really, really, really hard. And because I love what I do, it gave me something that I could be passionate about and look forward to. And so that is something I’m so thankful for and I don’t take for granted.

Danielle I. : Well, that got me thinking too, even as I was just like talking about bravery and hearing you describe your experience, that like… And the moments where, so thinking about like how critical our perfectionism can become and procrastinating, there’s the shame that that can trigger. I think that I’ve used those positive or those inspiring, I don’t know, quotes and ideals, to almost like… Because when I feel like I’m not being brave, when I’m not doing the brave thing, or when I’m not adulting the way that I think that I should, that then becomes the measuring stick that I beat myself with.

Jen Petro: Yeah.

Danielle I. : And so what is your, when you are worried about, I don’t know, how am I going to do the thing? I guess, what’s your internal critic. What are the things, the reoccurring things that it tells you?

Jen Petro: Yeah. I mean I think it’s a lot of the common stuff. The impostor syndrome, like who am I? I feel like the, who am I? That trifecta of words is so powerful for all of us.

Danielle I. : Who am I?

Jen Petro: Who am I to do this? Or who am I to whatever, say that I have this to offer the world. I think that rears its ugly head.

Jen Petro: I think in the marketing service stuff, because I’ve been in that world so long, doesn’t mean I’ve arrived, but the imposter voice has gotten a lot quieter because I’ve gotten so much positive feedback. The business has grown and have repeat customers, and all those things that sort of affirm, right? Lots of affirmation. And so that voice still creeps in, for sure. But it’s when I’m stepping out to do something new, like when I started the business building program. This is something very different than I had done before. And all of a sudden those voices got so stinking loud.

Danielle I. : Every time. Why is it that every time you’re about ready to step into something new, it’s like we throw all the evidence of all of our past achievements out the window?

Jen Petro: Right? It’s where’s that value?

Danielle I. : It’s like it just didn’t even happen.

Jen Petro: Absolutely.

Danielle I. : Yes.

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Jen Petro: So that was a big issue. But I think, going back to sitting across the table with these women, I made them my why, and I think in those moments of imposter syndrome, especially, I would just go back to seeing the relief on their face, seeing the joy on their face when they do start doing what they have dreamt of doing, and it’s working well, and they’re reaching out to me. And so I think going back to that was really helpful. And also just surrounding myself with amazing women, in my mastermind and just in my personal circles, who can look me in the eye and say, “That is a bunch of bull. Like whatever you’re saying right now, like, no,” right? Like you calling me out on the small… Yeah, exactly.

Jen Petro: It’s the same thing. So I think that is such an important part of overcoming any of these lies and limiting beliefs that we tell ourselves. It’s just having people in your life who can just call you out when you’re living that.

Danielle I. : Oh yes. So from that group, or maybe not from that group, but in another another part of your life, like what’s some of the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Jen Petro: Ooh. Whoa. That’s such a great question.

Danielle I. : Thank you.

Jen Petro: I would say one of the really interesting things that my mastermind coach Michele Cushatte, shared with me, and I don’t know if this is original to her or something that she had learned elsewhere, but she encouraged me to have little acts of rebellion. Have you heard that before?

Danielle I. : No.

Jen Petro: Take little steps of rebellion. When you’re feeling, it could be for the imposter syndrome, but when you’re just feeling that stuckness from perfectionism, from fear, from whatever, take, make these little steps of rebellion.

Jen Petro: And that to me has been such a powerful thing to learn. And so I find myself doing that in times where I am terrified about moving forward on something. If I just a little, take some little baby steps or do some things that are really different for me, getting out of my comfort zone, that is really helpful. And so I think about that phrase that rattles around in my mind a lot. Just little acts of rebellion.

Danielle I. : Little acts of rebellion. I love that. I think what I love about that so… Well, I have too many thoughts in my head at once, but one of the things I really love about that is that, not to make it about politics, but just to talk about like the political climate and how loud it seems, whether in a digital space or in a public space, or in a rally, or a riot. Like how loud it seems to be. and I think that there’s this like emotional bell curve of how much can I get in hooked in this? And I think for me, like women’s issues, women’s rights, there’s so many issues that really sing and speak to my heart, but yelling has never felt like me.

Jen Petro: Yeah.

Danielle I. : And not to say that anyone who is an activist, that that is what they’re doing, but that’s how I’m interpreting a lot of what I’m seeing. Like if you’re not shouting at Capitol Hill, at the top of the mountain, then you’re not involved. And so what I love about the little act of rebellion is that I think it honors that all voices. Whether it’s a soft whisper or whether it’s a loud boom, and that any step forward is still a step forward. Whether it’s a little baby step or it’s like a big old leap.

Jen Petro: I love that.

Danielle I. : Yeah.

Jen Petro: I love that. And I think it just builds momentum. I think that’s probably the point of it, is you start to feel unstuck, even if you’re just a tiny bit down the road.

Danielle I. : Yes, yes. Because, God the momentum behind like the stuckness, the stickiness and funky depressed thinking, like just caught down on those. Or like in the buzz of anxiety, it’s like, you do, you get sucked into a vortex and it’s so hard. And I think the little acts of rebellion, that’s a fantastic piece of advice.

Jen Petro: I love it. I love it. I heard someone talk about her debilitating battle with anxiety to the point where she couldn’t leave her house. I mean, we’re talking clinical debilitating, and literally the way that she got herself out of that funk was to start making her bed.

Danielle I. : Yeah.

Jen Petro: Like she just started making her bed and then she wouldn’t get back in it because it was made. Right? And so anyway, that’s a good example, I think of a way that can play out.

Danielle I. : I love that. It’s whatever you can do where you are.

Jen Petro: That’s right.

Danielle I. : Yeah.

Jen Petro: So I think rebellion doesn’t have to be something rebellious. It can just be a little step that’s going really hard against what your heart is telling you to do or what you’re feeling.

Danielle I. : And you’re rebelling against the critic. You’re rebelling against the perfection, the permission, the procrastination. That voice that says, “Who are you?”

Jen Petro: Or the depression or the anxiety, or whatever it is that’s threatening to you.

Danielle I. : You’re rebelling against that.

Jen Petro: Yup.

Danielle I. : Yes.

Jen Petro: I love that.

Danielle I. : Oh, that’s so good. That’s so good. Well, it wouldn’t be a Don’t Cut Your Own Bangs episode if we didn’t explore the Don’t Cut Your Own Bangs moment.

Jen Petro: I love it.

Danielle I. : So I would love, love to hear a Don’t Cut Your Own Bangs Moment that you, Jen Petro, have personally experienced.

Jen Petro: I love it. I think you should make all your guests bring pictures of their bad bang haircuts.

Danielle I. : Yes. I can provide many for you of my personal bad. Okay. It’s on record and it’s, I don’t know. I mean I’m saying it’s legally binding, you must now send me a photo and I too, my homework will be to go home and go through my albums because I’ve got so many great.

Jen Petro: Oh yeah.

Danielle I. : Oh yeah. Anyway, I just had to tell you that.

Jen Petro: Yes, that’s perfect.

Jen Petro: Okay. The one that came to me immediately, although I feel like I’ve had many, is the day I decided that I would minor in computer science, and I have to back up this a little bit to explain that. So when I was little, I was 10 or 12 and my dad would take me to this weekly group of nerdy guys would meet, it’s called Apple Club. And it was like a bunch of 20, 30 year olds with their pocket protectors, and their floppy disks. And they would meet at this college campus and they would talk about like Apple computers and programming.

Danielle I. : So now it’s the genius bar.

Jen Petro: Oh, yeah. Totally, right? And this was before Macs were cool, right? So this was not cool, but my dad would take me and I loved it. I was the only kid there. I was the only girl there. And they would talk about all this nerdy stuff and they would program computer games, and they would bring me games they had made or whatever. And so I got into this because I was a complete nerd. I’m still a complete nerd, but my dad then bought me a book on programming. I was literally like 10 and it was just this kids book and I would program little dorky things. Mostly I would make my computer do things that were mean to my sister. Like if she tried to log in, it would say, “You nerd face,” or whatever.

Danielle I. : You nerd face.

Jen Petro: So it wasn’t like I was a genius, I was just doing stupid things. But anyway, that lasted like a year or two. Okay. And I never touched programming again, ever. And so I go to IU and I’m a journalism undergrad. I’m a writer and that’s my thing. And for whatever reason, I decided, I should minor in computer science. Right? Like I bet there are jobs there and I bet they’re cute guys in that department. Right?

Jen Petro: So I did and I enrolled in my first class and it was a Java. It’s like I remember as the programming language Java, which means nothing to me now or then.

Danielle I. : JavaScript.

Jen Petro: I don’t know. I don’t even know. And I knew within 24 hours of that class, of the first class, that I had made a grave mistake. Not only did I have no idea what the professor was saying, like literally, it was like another language to me.

Danielle I. : Well, it probably was.

Jen Petro: It is, but I knew these were not my people. Like I did not fit in. And I, oh my gosh. It was hilarious. So I did finish the semester.

Danielle I. : Wow.

Jen Petro: But I didn’t do well, that’s only because I’m so stubborn. I had finished the semester, but I mean it wasn’t without lots of crying in the computer lab. Lots and lots of crying. But I immediately switched to English minor, which is, those were my people, right? It’s again, it’s the sad poetry and wine-drinking people.

Danielle I. : They’re going to be like, ya man…

Jen Petro: Totally, totally. And so, yeah, that’s what comes to mind. But I mean it was definitely a learning experience. And I think, I mean to take you back to kind of what we talked about earlier, it’s, you figure out like what is it that you’re passionate about and what brings you joy? Computer programming did not bring me joy.

Danielle I. : Yep.

Jen Petro: No, no, no, no.

Danielle I. : God, I could go down a rabbit hole with technology, but I got say… Okay, so what… Yes, the looking around the room and realizing that no one is reflecting back to you. Like no, sense of belonging. The cheese is standing alone.

Danielle I. : I have a lot of those moments, but I feel like the one that I can share that I just feel like it’s really going to meet you where that was in terms of like hubris getting away from you. So I was 11 or 12. I was at Flat Rock Creek Camp, and I was signing up for horseback riding. And in my like 10, 11, or 12 year old mind, I don’t remember the exact age, it was enough though that like I knew the experience and feeling of humiliation.

Jen Petro: Yeah, for sure.

Danielle I. : Because when you’re a really little kid, you don’t care. You poop your pants, you fart, you’re like, “Whatever, let’s go. It’s fine.” I was self aware enough to know that like I could be really embarrassed. I remember looking at the evaluation form of, what level rider are you?

Danielle I. : And I was like, “Well, I mean, I know I’m not experienced, but-“

Jen Petro: I got this.

Danielle I. : “I mean, I have ridden a horse like four times, so I’m an intermediate.”

Jen Petro: Or semi expert.

Danielle I. : Like conserve space between intermediate and expert, because I think that’s what I am. So I click… Click. All right. It was on a paper form. God, we’re so hooked in the matrix now.

Jen Petro: I love it.

Danielle I. : So I checked on the paper box, intermediate, and let me go back. So my experience on a horse was being four and five years old, riding a retired race horse that was completely blind. And her name was Marble because her eyes were so cataracted, that they look like marbles.

Jen Petro: No, no.

Danielle I. : And it was someone holding me on a rope and walking me around. So that was my experience.

Jen Petro: Wow.

Danielle I. : Now I checked the box intermediate and we’re on this horse and they, I swear to God, put me on like a white stallion.

Jen Petro: No.

Danielle I. : The biggest, most like aggressive, aggressive for like, I guess fo a Christian camp. Like just like it was…

Jen Petro: Unbroken.

Danielle I. : Yes, it was this unbroken horse whisperer type of like wild mustang that they put me on. And this horse knew instantly.

Jen Petro: I got you.

Danielle I. : She got no control. We were the last ride of the day and all this horse wanted to do was to eat, and it was so done with me. So it literally cuts. Okay. So just imagine.

Jen Petro: No.

Danielle I. : Imagine like a 10 year old on a horse with like… So like I’m literally huddled down and the horse knows all the back trails. And literally like the camp people are shouting at me, “Take the reigns.”

Jen Petro: Come back.

Danielle I. : It’s like, “Don’t drop the reigns.” And I was like, “I don’t know what to do.”

Jen Petro: That’s awesome.

Danielle I. : And yeah, I felt humiliated. I don’t remember anyone ever talking about it, at least not to my face, but it was like, “Oh God.” I think I have a lot of moments like that, and sometimes it serves me well. Like sometimes checking that box served me well, but that one it did not.

Jen Petro: No, no.

Danielle I. : No.

Jen Petro: Did you make it back?

Danielle I. : Oh gosh, I’m still out there. I’m still, I never made it back. I think I made it back like a solid 10 minutes before the rest of the group because the horse… And I was like still on the saddle, and the horse was eating. And I mean yeah, it just… Oh the folly of youth.

Jen Petro: I love it.

Danielle I. : Yes. Well, I want to have you back to read one of your poems.

Jen Petro: No. No, no, no.

Danielle I. : Well, I like you too much to do that to you. If not to share a poem, definitely to just have more great conversation and potentially share great, awesome, embarrassing photos, and talk about that.

Jen Petro: I’d love that.

Danielle I. : But Jen Petro, thank you so much for your time.

Jen Petro: Aw, thank you.

Danielle I. : This was lovely.

Jen Petro: I love it.

Danielle I. : And I know that everyone listening is just going to want to pop right over to DropLeaf, and sign up, and take your 12 week course to start a side hustle. Make a side hustle a main hustle or just like, I don’t know, flex your creative, entrepreneurial muscle because I think everyone’s got a gift to share.

Jen Petro: I love it. Let’s do it.

Danielle I. : Let’s do it.

Danielle I. : All right, awesome. Well, Jen Petro, thank you so much again, and thank you for listening to Don’t Cut Your Own Bangs.

Danielle I. : Thanks so much for completing an episode in season three of Don’t Cut Your Own Bangs. I appreciate you so much and speaking of appreciation, I think it’s a little unfair that I feel like I’ve been doing most of the talking and I want to hear from you. So if you have a second or two, if you leave a comment either on Apple podcast, Spotify, however you’re listening, you’re always welcome to to shoot me a message through danielle@danielleireland.com, there are lots of creative ways you can connect with me there. Let me know your thoughts. It really does make me better. Constructive feedback or even just takeaways, what you find valuable, what you want more of. Let me hear from you. And of course who doesn’t love the occasional compliment? If something touches you, you have no idea how much that just fills my heart with joy or maybe you do. Either way, please let me hear from you. Hope you continue having an awesome day and thanks for continuing to listen.

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