Spotlight Series: Meet Career Coach Jehanne Marie Burns

1. Tell us a bit about yourself

My business name says it all: Pocket Ninja Strategies. I'm little, maybe even small enough to fit in your pocket, but I pack a powerful punch. I'm energetic, talkative, always thinking. I'm passionate about people getting what they want in business and in life, because it's what I have spent most of my life trying to figure out, and what I'll spend the rest of my life mastering.

2. What was your first job and how did you get it?

My first professional job was a co-op job as part of my diploma in Business and Marketing Diploma (I actually started working when I was 10 delivering 100s of fliers each week for $25 a month, and have been working ever since). For my co-op job, I was the Accounting Clerk and Departmental Liaison for the Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations. And I was so bad at it! Everyday I made some kind of mistake. I was so green and just not good with numbers.

3. How did you decide and get to your career today?

The funny thing is I don't think I decided on this career, I think it was always trying to come to me. Up until 4 years ago, I felt like I didn't even have a career. I felt like I had all these jobs, but I just couldn't get this "career" thing figured out. Then when I did my MBA everything came together. In the MBA, my colleagues continually would say "Ask Jehanne, she'll know" and I was like "Ask me, why ask me?". Then, I had a epiphany; my diverse experience in government, non-profit, corporations, and start-ups, and doing everything from accounting, to teaching to helping to selling franchises was extremely valuable as I had gained numerous perspectives and tools that people needed and I knew how to train people to use use these tools.

Before I knew it, I had quit my really great job, I launched Pocket Ninja Strategies and became a college instructor. I never thought this would be my career path, but as I look back it's so clear that every experience was leading me right here, exactly where I'm meant to be.

4. What advice would you have given your younger self? Or what is the best career advice you have ever received?

There's almost too much to name but let me give it a try.

1. You'll never be "ready", so just start. I used to live by the notion that I couldn't do something until I was "ready" or until I knew enough, or until I had achieved enough success (to be a business coach). But, the truth is you'll never be "ready" and you'll never know how to do something, until you actually do it. You can't learn to swim my reading about swimming, you have to jump in the pool. So, I didn't know how to start a business until I just started it.

2. You don't have to go "big" to start.

I thought then when I started a coaching business I would need to be all knowing, accomplished, wise with grey hair at my temples and it would have to be a perfect giant business. But, I was fortunate to learn about "MVP" (from Lean Startup) which stands for Minimum Viable Product - the absolute minimum thing you need to start. The MVP idea also includes the premise, if you're not embarrassed by your first launch then you waited too long. So now I don't wait for things to be perfect (cause that will never happen). I just start with something really small. One client is all you need to be in business.

3. Double down on your strengths, and punt your weaknesses.

I used to spend so much of my time trying to be good at things I'll never be good at (remember how I almost got fired for being bad with numbers). Danielle Laporte says "If you round all your edges you'll loose your edge", so now I focus 110% at doing what I love and what I'm good at, and deleting or delegating everything I'm not. And be confident about what you have to offer! For most of my life I lacked SO much confidence. I feel very sad for that younger woman with so much to give and so little confidence to give it.

4. Learn, Learn, Learn

Over 10 years ago my mentor suggested I read business books, and since then I've read over 100 business books and it's really the reason I'm able to coach people. I am able to take all this information I gathered and tried myself, and digest it into useful bits for my clients. Reading books has been a huge learning for me personally and professionally.

5. In 5 years, where do you hope to be professionally and personally?

I have a goal of making 1 million differences. So in 5 years, I want my business to be in a position where the "differences" I am making are being tabulated, and I can start to predict the date when I'll achieve 1 million differences. And ultimately, in 5 years I want to be saying that my goal isn't big enough because I'm getting close to achieving it, so I want to be saying "What's next?". Personally, I want to have travelled to 8 new countries!

Stay Connected with Jehanne!




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