Lead a Gr8 Life

Today’s blog comes from Jennifer Kready. Jennifer is a non-profit veteran having spent over fifteen years in the public sector working in affordable housing and early care and education organizations. Likewise, she’s an Air Force veteran and ‘retired’ Army spouse having enjoyed twelve years in the military sector, as an active duty and Reservist member, traveling the world, and exploring new cultures. Jennifer left her public service career in 2014 to start a business.  She hosts, ‘Engage for Entrepreneurs’, a Meetup for independent professionals and microbusiness owners.  Jennifer is also actively engaged in women veteran and military spouse entrepreneurship activities, by supporting IVMF entrepreneur programs and hosting online groups to bring her peers together for on-going business support and networking. Her 2016 goal is to open Williamson County’s first cowork space in Round Rock. She’s a new ‘mom’ to two puppies, and while it’s not like having children, giving her a stronger appreciation for the role her brother and sister-in-law have in raising her nieces, Hannah and Addison.

Boldly Knocking on Doors

I’m not normally shy at knocking on doors, after all I had been an Air Force Captain married to an equally strong-willed Army Captain. Yet like many Veterans, during my transition into the civilian world, I was undervalued by my civilian leadership. I was angry; I had significant responsibility in the military and yet they were treating me like a child. Confused, I became introverted and failed to advocate for myself.

This reticence moved with me as we finalized our last household move (four in eight years) in 2013. Only a few months into my new non-profit job, I was seeing signs that my boss didn’t value my knowledge or experience. I was also 39 and feeling less than stellar about turning 40. I wanted to tackle these life challenges and become more intentional about this next phase of life. It was time to boldly start knocking on doors so I joined Gr8 Women Leaders.

Gr8 Women Leaders started me on a new course and within three months a class peer challenged me, asking, “Why don’t you just quit your job?” Shocked at first, the question began to settle into me with significant weight. This was the only way I could shock my system and take myself back. I quit in January 2014. Relying on my Gr8 Women Leaders resources like the DISC assessment, time management modules, and goal setting skills, I set off onto what I called ‘the open road of entrepreneurship’ (as printed on my business cards). This open road required me to knock on many doors, extend my reach, and ask for help. In essence, Gr8 Women Leaders encouraged my vulnerability to strengthen my power.

Boldly knocking on doors is my fight song, my life’s cadence, and girds everything I do. By telling people what I want, I (usually) get what I need to succeed. I went to Gr8 Women with a goal to reframe who I was as a civilian and a Veteran and that happened. After graduating from Gr8 Women in July 2014, I became involved in entrepreneurship by attending several nationally recognized veteran and military spouse programs and moderating online groups for my peers. Using what I learned from Gr8 Women, I have set a new personal and professional course, one that includes helping veterans like me.

As a Gr8 Woman Leader, I learned that I’m my own obstacle, first and foremost. I have to get out of my way and boldly knock on doors to achieve my fullest potential as a wife, sister, aunt, daughter, Veteran, and entrepreneur.

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