After 20 years in corporate America it was time for Jenny Erickson to take her knowledge in program delivery, technology, marketing, business process, supply chain, and organization development and turn it into results for micro business owners. Her passion is helping others find out what’s holding them back and then watching them remove it and soar. So she blends Advisory (telling) with Coaching (asking) in a way that puts every client at choice with how they move forward.
Every business has a story, tell us yours.
I frequently get asked why I have two businesses that seem to have nothing in common. The story is not in the businesses themselves but why they have more in common than you might expect.
ACThoughtful Consulting was just an idea and a logo four years ago that I wasn’t ready to launch. I’m sure many of us have been there! I knew I wanted to help entrepreneurs increase their impact by helping to break down large strategic problems and opportunities (like growth) into the components that allow you to achieve it. Each opportunity has results to be understood, actions to be taken, and mindsets that need to be true. I also knew if I could channel the 20 years in big business into a consumable, affordable, no-nonsense format, I could really make a difference.
The idea of The Taste Experience was born two years ago. I was throwing wine tasting parties for fun and had started developing immersive content and themes. After one party, someone pulled me aside and said they’d learned more about the wine that evening than at formal classes they’d attended. I realized there was a market for wine education that was less about talking and more about connecting with the wine on a sensory and emotional level that allows people to retain more of what they learn and frankly have more fun. I decided to create it.
2019 is when the doors were officially open for business with the launch of my first DIY wine playbook and putting some definition and IP behind how I will help micro-business owners. Both businesses have common themes – they make the complex simple, they create new ways of doing things, and they help activate people in authentic and affordable ways.
You were chosen as this month’s Innovator Member. What does being an Innovator mean to you?
If you have a toolbox and a common set of tools, you get to know them well. Over time, you get good at using your tools extremely efficiently. That efficiency can be great for productivity. Innovation is about taking a different path not reinforced by what you know will work. You either use your tools differently (not as they are intended), or you use the same tools to do completely different things. Innovation happens in each person when they go outside of a known solution and see what will result.
No one likes to brag about their business, but if you HAD TO . . .
ACThoughtful blends advice, coaching and rolling up our sleeves seamlessly. We let our clients know exactly which of three hats we’re wearing so you can be at choice with that. We are supportive and we hold our clients accountable to the commitments they’ve made to themselves. We’ve been called the virtual stiletto and we’re quite proud of that. It’s that balance and art that gets us hired and keeps us on speed dial.
We learn from our mistakes, especially in business. Give us some words of wisdom.
If I had to summarize (practically) 20 years of learnings, I would say embrace mistakes and as Richard Branson puts it, “protect your downside”
Embrace mistakes. I’ve had to learn to make glorious mistakes --- and I relearn it every year. Innovation means trying new things in different ways, so I’m constantly out of my element. I will never love making mistakes. However, I have learned to change my relationship with them.
Daniel Kahneman in his book “Thinking, Fast and Slow” covers studies that show people have greater regret for a negative outcome when they took an action vs. if the outcome arrived through inaction.
Imagine what that does to our decision making and potential to innovate?
Mistakes will never feel good; but we can be honest about how they make us feel and react so we can do something different. As a recent example, one interaction recently that I thought was a mistake turned into a window to my target market. I looked at my Facebook campaign in a different way and realized I had been missing key insights about my customers that I wouldn’t have found otherwise.
Every mistake is an opportunity to learn and adjust the plan or the goal. If we own that it doesn’t make us feel great, we can get to that benefit quicker.
The offset to risk-taking and mistake-making is knowing your downside. What’s the worst that can happen and can you withstand it? Know that before you make high stakes decisions. You can take the power (and the energy drain) out of that eventuality by labeling it and planning for it.
If you can benefit from all the insights and protect against the worst-case scenario – you’ll get to somewhere that you can be satisfied with as a business owner, and a person.
What “teacher” has made the most impact on your life and why?
Rather than one teacher, I have nuggets from many teacher’s I’ve had over the years who each had something special to give. A former CIO told me to “love the planning, not the plan”. My mom took stock of my overwhelm on one project and said, “just start in one corner and work your way around”. A coach who pointed out I was able to slow down my speech when I connected with my heart instead of my head. A father who taught me that my word is my bond and follow-through, hard work, and service are everything. Many leaders rewarded my courage and desire to do the right thing by letting me do work and fight battles “above my band” even when there was a cost they might have to pay.
The walls of my heart that make-up the person I have become have been signed by many and I walk in that room every so often and cherish each handprint.
What might someone be surprised to know about you?
I have an artistic streak. I started writing, playing, and singing my own songs at the age of 12. Which definitely helped with public speaking…
I was self-taught and home schooled. I graduated at 16 and went straight into the workforce full time before I went back to school. It taught me to be self-driven and to work and problem solve without a teacher, a quality I benefit from as an entrepreneur.
If you could have only one super power, what would it be and why?
I would leap and it would be kind of half flying, half soaring (I am guessing you know the kind!). Because that is what I do in my dreams and I think it would be extremely fun to do it in real life! Rumor has it I’m not the only one who has that weird fly-jumping in their dreams…
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read or seen this week?
I just finished Daniel Kahneman’s book I mentioned above so I’m letting it soak in. There are a ton of nuggets in there about the way we think and tick and how it shows up in judgement and decision-making.
Why do you choose to WORK AWESOME at OffiCenters?
There is no other co-working facility in the Twin Cities that allows me unlimited co-working access to 7 facilities all over the cities at an affordable price point for a micro-business owner with two businesses just starting out. I live on the east side of the metro but spend roughly 30% on the west side and have clients all over the cities. It’s critical at this stage of my business that I can be where my clients are and OffiCenters makes that happen for me.
How else can people CONNECT with you?
I’m almost everywhere because I want to meet people where they are. The best place to see what’s cooking is on Facebook or my websites. You can attend free entrepreneurship workshops I host, text or email me and we can connect over coffee at the OffiCenters, read my blogs to see what’s in Jenny’s head (it’s an interesting place I’m told) or if you really like to get things done -- schedule a free coaching session at: https://www.calendly.com/acthoughtful/ and we can get down to your business.