Meet #entremom Jen Armstrong, one half of The Jen(n)s, life coach, church coach, creative, and, oh yeah, a mom.
Tell us about your business
I have several businesses. Obviously, we are running entremoms, but I also I have a company called Coach my Church and I do consulting for churches who are struggling or going through transitions. I am a live event producer, a life coach, a small business coach, and I have 2 network marketing companies I sell for. In addition to that, my husband is launching a new game day apparel company called Okie Blokes.
Tell us about you?
So I am married to my best friend Chris and together we have 2 kids, an 11 year old and a 7 year old and they are insanely creative and hilarious and sweet. We recently moved back home to Oklahoma after spending a few years in Atlanta where Chris and I had the privilege of working for a mentor of ours, Andy Stanley. Chris is a designer slash web developer and I spent several years producing live events and working as a creative. We quit our jobs there so that I could spend more time with our kids and we could pursue our own ventures. I homeschool both of them which is an adventure in and of itself but we love the freedom it gives us – we love not being tied to a calendar and a schedule so we can pretty much do whatever we want when we want.
What advice would you give the 23 year old you?
You mean besides giving myself a sports almanac from 2016?
That’s hard because your first inclination is to sort of pass on the fast track info so that I could have gotten to where I am quicker, but I spent my 20’s with an incredible group of people in Stillwater, Oklahoma. And even though there were some pretty good struggles, I was absolutely shaped and forever changed by that time in my life, so I wouldn’t want it to have gone any other way. I was just about to get married though, and I would have told myself maybe not to be as nervous because it was going to turn out even better than I had expected.
What has been the biggest barrier to your success?
I think the biggest barrier to my success is that I am such an extreme introvert. It is so hard for me to network or want to be around large groups of people. I despise small talk, so making new connections is such a drag for me. I love people when I can have meaningful conversations, but that is not usually the case in business situations. I wish I was more outgoing but man, it’s just so much work for me. I thank God everyday for text messaging and the ability to do business over my computer.
What’s the secret sauce?
The secret sauce for me has been investing in myself. I have spent tens of thousands of dollars over the last few years just learning from the best and learning practical ways to increase my income, and it has paid me back exponentially. If you are not willing to invest in yourself, others will not invest with you.
So back in the early 2000’s my husband and I started a copier/software business, and we tried to convince companies to standardize on their printers and copiers and also digitize all of their information. We had software and hardware that would scan all of their existing documents into searchable files. Well, of course today everyone does that but 15 years ago it was a new thing and the businesses were just not ready to make that leap. We were ahead of our time, and we got into the situation where we were having to tell people what they wanted instead of responding to what they actually wanted. It was a super hard time for us, and we ended up having to sell our house and cars and basically start over. We learned a lot from it, but it was definitely our first big fail. And it wasn’t that we were wrong… we knew where technology was going… it was that our timing was off. To be successful you really need the right product at the right time.
What does your ideal day look like?
This is such an easy question. My ideal day is on a beach. I am such a beach girl. I know you probably mean a day that I am at home but really, I think about the ocean most days. I would wake up and have coffee overlooking the ocean, spend the day under an umbrella right by the water reading a great book and listening to the kids play, come home, shower, eat a great dinner and then watch a new episode of Suits or The Americans with Chris.
Tips, tricks, hacks, and habits?
My business hack is podcasts. Hands down. I have gotten a college education several times over just listening to podcasts and learning from the incredible business and thought leaders in our world. My mom hack has to do with laundry. We have 4 people in our family so we have 5 laundry baskets, one for each person and one for towels and sheets. Every person does their own laundry and they have a certain day they do it so like on Mondays, Jack takes only his basket, puts the whole load in the wash (we are not sorters), and then he puts it in the dryer and takes it to his room. What he does with it after that is his business. He can put it away, or keep them in a pile… I stopped caring. On my day I do mine and I put mine away, and then we pay the kids a $1 a load for towels and sheets. End result, laundry is always done and I do one to two loads tops per week. It’s. Brilliant.
If you could help solve one problem in the world today it would be…
Homelessness really bothers me. The way I desire to help people is extremely tangibly. I hate to be cold and dirty and uncomfortable, so my strong desire is to get people off the streets, give them a nice meal, a warm shower, clean pajamas, and a soft bed. It’s the mother in me I guess. I want people to feel taken care of.
What encouragement do you have for our listeners?
Oh my goodness. I feel so strongly about our listeners. I pray for them and in such a weird way, I feel like I love them already. I have so much I want to encourage them about, and that’s one of the reasons I am so excited about this podcast is because I will get a chance to speak to them regularly. I think today we are just living in some pretty uncertain times. There is so much going on in the world and so much upheaval politically and economically. As women and moms I know that causes a ton of anxiety and fear because we want to create a safe place and a sure place for our kids and our families. You don’t have to give in to fear and anxiety. You can take control of your life and your finances and your time…. Women are incredibly resourceful and I want to encourage our listeners to not let the current times paralyze you, let them empower you to take control. Imagine if you were not subject to the economy and didn’t have to worry about getting laid off or finding a job… find that spirit of ingenuity and create something for yourself so that your time and finances are not controlled by anyone but you. This is the time for us to rise up, not shrink back.
Who is your ideal client?
My ideal client is someone that is ready to invest in herself, someone that wants success for themselves more than I want it for them, someone ready to do whatever it takes and someone who hates excuses. I think they are the most fun people to work with because with that mindset the sky really is the limit.
What is your guilty pleasure?
My guilty pleasure is great TV. Chris and I LOVE to binge watch and I fin,d it very difficult when my shows end.
How do you balance work/ kids/ marriage?
I think the best way that I found to have balance is not to compartmentalize. You know a lot of people say they “turn off” their business or whatever… I just think of my life as one big thing. My kids are always home since they are homeschooled, but I involve them with my businesses as much as possible. They understand what I do and they have ideas for me. When Chris is home we are talking about his day and my day and the kids’ day. When we are playing, we are working and when we are working, we are playing. It’s all the same to us. We want to teach our kids that work is a huge part of life, and so we want them to love what they do. We model that for them by allowing them to see our passion and hear what we are dreaming about. I don’t know… it feels balanced to us.
Where are you surviving and where are you thriving?
I’d have to say that where I am surviving is physically. I’m doing fine but I struggle a lot with what I eat, because I am a supremely picky eater. But as I get older, my body needs more than what I have been able to get by with in the past. I have some goals and I am working on that.
Thriving I will just have to say professionally. It’s been a fun season of life to see how all of my experiences and gifts come together in what I like to call the “glass slipper” moment where you just sort of go… ahhh… this is the perfect fit for me and this is part of what I’m meant to do.
Tip for managing life/ staying present?
So something our family does from time to time is we have a traditional Shabbat or Sabbath. We are not Jewish, we are Christian, but we had a good friend in Atlanta who really opened our eyes to some of the Jewish traditions and found they really enriched our faith in a way nothing else ever had. So what we do is on Friday night we make an amazing meal, we light candles, invite people over and then we turn off all of our technology for 24 hours. We take a complete break from all work… no house cleaning no yard work no school… just hang out and play and rest and spend time together and with God, for 24 hours. Saturday night it ends and we are business as usual. It’s an awesome way we like to recharge and hit the reset button.
What is your favorite quote?
Aren’t these terrible questions? How are you supposed to pick?!?!
I will tell you guys my favorite quote and it’s from a Walt Whitman poem. He is sort of questioning the purpose for our existence and he says this:
What good amid these, oh me? Oh life? Answer: That you are here. That life exists, and identity. That the powerful play|
goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
I have loved that line for over 20 years, and I am always thinking about what I want my verse to be. You only get one life so you better make it a good one!