I hope you have some time… I’ll try to keep it interesting. Let’s start from the very beginning.
I was born Jacqueline Lamenzo, but always called Jackie…until 4th grade, when I decided that I needed to be different and wanted to start spelling my name Jacky. My parents let me (foreshadowing their very cool and supportive parenting that would continue throughout this story) and my 4th grade teacher was extremely confused. But this about sums up my childhood. Doing things differently — and doing them boldly.
In 5th grade I was at Joann Fabric’s with my mom and my best friend, Libby Pinkham. Libby and I had been having lemonade stands and were trying to figure out how to take them to the next level. We saw a rolling cart and pooled our money to invest it into our lemonade stand business. Our thought process was that since we lived maybe 25 houses apart, we could walk up and down the street and hit up WAY more people than we if stayed in one place. Brilliant, I know. Turns out, a plastic cart meant for minimal wheeling doesn’t do well on the pavement, but, again, this about sums up my go-getter attitude from the get-go. I was destined to think outside the box and do things differently.
Fast forward to a few months after my 18th birthday. I left for University of Hartford to study Early Childhood Education. I was told that if I wanted to study abroad I had to go my sophomore year since I had to do student teaching my junior and senior years. My parents encouraged me to go on this adventure, even though it would be the longest I’d ever been away from home. So I left, at 19 years old — to Florence, Italy with my college bestie Beca Salinardi. Florence opened my eyes to the world. We were able to explore other European cities and I fell in love with the new cultures, smells, and styles they each had.
Something you should probably know about me — for all my life, I was known as The Picky Eater. The one who ate the kid’s menu diet long after I passed that fine print point of “for children 10 and under.” The one who had grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese, pizza, and buttered pasta noodles; essentially anything veggie-free and full of carbs, sugar and fat. It became a part of me that I hated but it was a fear bigger than me that I couldn’t explain. I was just fine in Florence because of the abundance of pizza, pasta and bread. But I knew I couldn’t travel to many places without it being a struggle.
It wasn’t until I took a job in Beijing, China at 23 that I knew I would need to let go of my food phobias. I prepared to make the biggest change of my life – bigger than moving to China for a year – to start trying unfamiliar and scary foods.
In that year I surprised everyone and, most importantly, I surprised myself. I tried (and really liked) so many new foods, from fruits and vegetables to things you couldn’t have paid me to try before, like mushrooms, eggplant and tofu. I realized how much I was missing (Mom, *please* don’t say I told you so) and grew a new interest in nutrition. I decided to enroll in Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) to learn more about why I should continue trying new foods and eating healthier. Learning the reasons behind healthy living has made the continuation of my journey feel comfortable, when it used to induce anxiety. Overcoming this life-long fear gave me the chance to go help others. As soon as I was certified as a Health Coach, I started working with adult picky eaters and parents of picky eaters.
A few months after I had enrolled in IIN, my year in China came to an end and I packed my bags and headed back home to Needham, MA. I stayed with my parents for 6 weeks and quickly realized I needed my next adventure. My Uncle Jay, his wife Tarah (too young to be my “aunt”), my youngest cousin Jimmy, my Grandpa and my Mima were all living in Austin, TX, so it was an easy move to a fun buzzing city. I was able to spend time with family I got to see maybe once a year if I was lucky, and I continued working on my health coaching business.
But I should mention that just before I left for Austin, I found Tom. Well… he had actually been there all along, just not such a leading role in my story. Our dad’s worked together before either of us were born and every Columbus Day Weekend growing up our families went up to Grafton, Vermont. And now, all these years later, things were different between us. But the funny thing was that I was leaving to move to Austin. When I left, we kept talking and sharing about our entrepreneurial aspirations and realized how similar we were. And also SUPER different. But it worked, and although we were both in denial of our new-found relationship, he moved down to Austin a few months after I did. We worked from coffee shops together, he was building Realtime Brackets and I was building my health coaching business, which was still slow but my passion project. I nannied a bit and substituted at a nearby elementary school. We had a crazy-magical year of house-sitting for family in different areas and refer to it as our Homeless Year. Anytime we weren’t sure what was next, something would present itself to us. This time in my life really solidified to me that I just needed to trust the process and that things would work themselves out.
In July of 2015 we were at the end of our house-sitting road and didn’t want to overstay our welcome at any of the homes we were staying at so had to decide on a city. Tarah, (my aunt who is too young to be my aunt) suggested I keep my name on the sub list at the school I was substituting at. When I sent the email to the principal, she replied back that she was looking for an Operations Manager - essentially the business manager for the elementary school I already knew and loved. It seemed to be the perfect position for me and I accepted. I worked there for 3 years and took pride in my work there.
It wasn’t until I was signing my contract for my 3rd year that I was informed that I wouldn’t get a pay raise for 6 years and when I did, it would be $250/year. I was shocked and felt completely undervalued. And I knew that with the fire in me, I couldn’t sit at a desk working for the same amount year after year for 6 MORE YEARS before seeing any upward movement. I knew I needed to add something to my day job to bring in more income.
So I thought and talked to many people. I considered nannying (lots of past experience), waitressing (zero past experience), getting a weekend job (meh). None of these things would allow me to have the same amount of free time I was used to and I didn’t have much time to give after working M-F 9-5. I was introduced to a network marketing opportunity and although I was hesitant, I jumped right in. I was told that if I sent the same message to hundreds of people that I could get some sales. I was told it is a numbers game, which it is, but not in the same way as I was attempting. I sent a cold message (starting with the people I haven’t talked to in forever because I felt so weird about it) and felt bad each time I did. I was putting them on the spot, backing them into a corner to try my products or join my team (even though they didn’t show any interest). It didn’t feel good.
Enter Holli Metz, my now business partner and power partner. We both felt the same way, that we were grinding our gears doing things that weren’t working and definitely weren’t making us feel good. We were feeling like people were avoiding us and it was a total bummer. We got into this business to inspire people and to make an additional income, not to piss people off! There had to be a better way.
So we started looking and came across Bob Heilig, and Ray Higdon, among a few others. They taught us how to create curiosity and to take massive action. We decided to start a Facebook group where we could start teaching what we were learning, which Bob had suggested. Give credit where credit is due, he said. And we did. We started pouring our extra time into Facebook lives and connecting with new members. Our group grew to 4,000 members in the first 30 days. We started calling in our tribe: the other online entrepreneurs who were sick of being salesy, too. We realized we weren’t alone and continued working on our tactics.
As we were teaching more and more, we realized pretty quickly that we were creating our own content, no longer sharing what we had learned from others. We started to realize that we were developing our own method; the Elevate Like a Boss Method — which consists of Connection, Authenticity, and Curiosity. We held our first 60-day challenge and had 200 members participate and although we quickly learned that 8 weeks is a LONG commitment, we also learned how amazing this community was. We had amazing engagement and we really started feeling better about our businesses. In the summer of 2018 we developed a course and when we launched it, we also opened registration for our first retreat, October 2018 in New Braunfels, TX. I will finish writing this as soon as I’m back from the weekend. *happy dance*
When we launched the course in August we also opened our first Mastermind group. A tight-knit coaching group where members could get more attention on things they needed guidance with. After the first 1-hour call, we had all cried and laughed and poured our hearts out. It was so clear that this was something special. We love going live to provide training to a large group, but to sit and pour into a small group was pure magic. We are extremely excited to see where Elevate Like a Boss goes. Holli and I will be opening a new Mastermind group in January 2018.