Oh you! So glad you're here.
How's the week? How was your weekend? I don't think I asked on Monday...
I was in Chicago for one of the best weddings ever.
Cassidy and Kory - two amazing and loving humans who brought the heat! With such a unique, fun and gorgeous way to celebrate their true love. I had the best time riding SOLO because Justin was in L.A. staying back for work. (BORING!) But he was missed.
ANYWAY. What did you do? Let me know!
Guys I have a really good serious of posts coming related to badass females. FOR REAL. I've always loved people that do their thing, boldly and passionately live their live and truly work each day to fulfill their lifes' mission and as a bonus help others find theirs.
As fate would have it - I was introduced to Jenna Starkey through the grapevine, and was SO IMPRESSED with this life she has built, as a fulfillment coach, who runs her own classes and workshops called 'Light it up' events. In Jenna's words:
"Light up events" were inspired by my love for collaborative discovery through activities focused on wellness and intellectual growth. I host workshops and activities in personal development, including topics like Enneagrams, Energy Healing, Design Thinking, Improv, and Life Coaching.
What I love about who she is, and what she does is that she works to help others, and has found something she is not only good at - but also passionate about, and she's followed that dream!
Let's get to it.
Interview with the fabulous, badass female Jenna Starkey!
Tell us a little bit about you, who you are, and what you do
My name is Jenna Starkey and I am a fulfillment coach who supports people (mostly millennials) to start really living every day of their lives.
I work mostly with dreamers who are moving through life with a twinkle in their eye, not quite sure if their dreams are worth taking seriously. My work focuses on helping them realign with what makes their hearts sing so they can go big for what they want.
I grew up in Berkeley and currently live in my dream neighborhood, North Beach in San Francisco. It's where my parents met when they were exactly the age I am now, 27. I'm also endlessly captivated and enchanted by music. I believe it's the barometer of the soul, and has a way of communicating beyond what words can.
Can you tell us what a fulfillment coach is?
"Fulfillment" coaching is a term that comes from the Coaches Training Institute, where I received my certification. It's a model of coaching I gravitated towards naturally and have found completely transformational in my own life. It's about having clients let go of preconceived rules and limitations in order to step into creating a life that's centered in what truly brings them alive.
Can you tell us about how you got to the place you are today?
Did you always know you wanted to coach people or were there events that led you to pursue this career?
I always knew I wanted to help people live meaningful and happy lives. I’ve always been enamored by how others see the world. My mom introduced to do a personality system called the Enneagram when I was about 11, and I became enthralled by the way the tool helped people articulate their view on the world. That way of understanding people is still my greatest passion.
My coaching journey really began a few years ago when I enrolled in a five week "Passion Program" to help me kick-start a passion project. I sat down that first day like a gitty school girl, knowing something huge was about to happen.
During the final presentation, I declared that I would be quitting my job at the end of the school year to start pursuing my love for personal development. Without a job in site or a plan ahead, I started networking my ass off to figure out what a career in "personal development" would look like. I met with people every single day and starting drawing connections between the people I felt aligned with. A dear friend introduced me to a classmate who was in the middle of her Coaching Credential at CTI and insisted I step in as a sample client. Within the first hour of the session, a light bulb went off, and in that instant I knew coaching was that “thing” I had been looking for all along.
Three months later, I enrolled at CTI and started doing whatever I could to pave a new path for myself.
Both my parents were horrified to learn that I was quitting my very stable Director position.
My mother hardly spoke to me for months because she was so scared. It was a very big risk indeed, and they were concerned. This experience with my parents was one of the most transformational periods in my life, because for the first time ever I was profoundly disconnected from my parents. I call what happened during those months, my time of "individuating" from my comfort zone.
I was finally trusting myself in a profound way, despite what the outside world was telling me.
Are there any defining moments in your life that made you as passionate about working with people to help them realize their potential?
There wasn't one defining moment, but there was a lifetime of arrows pointing in that direction.
As a child, I always mixed up my words. I had a tendency to say the wrong thing. My most embarrassing moments as a child all had to do with miscommunication. I never felt like I could express myself in a way that made me truly feel seen, heard and validated. I always said the wrong thing in school plays, acting classes, presentations. To me it felt like I was the center of endless jokes and it crushed me.
When I got to college, my instinct landed me in a prestigious journalism school. Something in my gut told me that I needed to master communication. I wanted to be an expert at getting my message across, and I wanted to articulate what it was that other people were seeing and saying too. I didn't want to fall short when it came to expressing what needed to be expressed. I wanted my ideas to have merit.
In college, I started to realize that what I loved so much about effective communication was its ability to give people a voice. I was in awe of how saying something honest to an understanding friend gave people freedom to step into their full power. And I noticed that transmission all around me: in writing, music, storytelling, singing and sharing a good hug. Realizing potential in oneself all boiled down to connection and communication.
I wanted to free others and support their full potential; to help people communicate openly so that they could be seen, heard and appreciated in the ways my inner child so desperately wanted to be.
In order to be a coach, I would imagine that you have a very thorough understanding of yourself, so you can help others to navigate their lives, have you always been so self assured and confident?
Some people think I've always been confident because I am naturally spontaneous and carefree, but that's not the case. Growing up I was painfully aware of what others thought of me. I was paralyzed by fear to speak in public all through high school and college. Only recently have I been able to let myself fully be seen up on stage.
Feeling judgement has always been a painfully real struggle for me.
When I'm completely confident, I can let my family and friends grimace with embarrassment at whatever I'm doing. And that is no small task! When I say something silly or make a strange decision, confidence is about trusting myself no matter what those close to me think. That's my endless quest, in trusting my process and knowing I'm loved, despite the experiences other people have of me.
What would you say the biggest thing keeping people from realizing their full potential today is?
Letting the voices in our head dictate our life, and forgetting that we really, truly get to create our life in every single moment
What advice would you give to someone who wants to find true fulfillment in life?
Recognize that fulfillment comes from the quality of our attention.
Embrace the preciousness of impermanence.
Take the time to slow down and notice what your intuition is telling you.
Take care of yourself the way you would a wide-eyed, innocent child.
Marinate in the fact that you are enough the way you are right now.
Don't wait for tomorrow to enjoy today.
What do you think is the biggest mistake people make today related to achieving their dreams?
They wait for tomorrow.
I'd love for you to share what "Light up events" are, which is how I came to know you!
"Light up events" were inspired by my love for collaborative discovery through activities focused on wellness and intellectual growth.
I host workshops and activities in personal development, including topics like Enneagrams, energy healing, design thinking, and life coaching. They are my way of bringing like-minded people together to talk about the deep things in life that often don't get expressed.
In fact, these topics are often unwelcome. I wanted to give permission for people to GO THERE.
I also love what happens when strangers and friends get together and learn new ways of being. There's this moment of epiphany that washes over people when they start to see new possibility. This is the "lighting up" I have always been after. Witnessing these moments is what gives my life purpose.
The topics at the events are on things like energy work (my favorite) and design thinking (I actually took the design thinking course with IBM!) what other topics are on the schedule for this year and how do you pick them?
- Enneagram Crash Course
- Design Thinking Our Lives
- Public Speaking Workshop (with my friend Eric Fettner of Out Educated)
These topics always find me! They manifest from conversations I have with peers, strangers, colleagues, clients and friends. Whatever burns in my belly means there's resonance, and therefore the ability to follow through.
What is the enneagram? I've never heard of it!
The Enneagram is a personality typing system that my mom introduced me to when I was young to help everyone in my family understand each other better (like most families, we struggled with that big time).
The structure of the system is based around nine personality types with elements rooted in traditional teachings such as the Seven Deadly Sins and the Kaballah. In essence, each of the types is defined by a distinct motivation based around what has evolved to be nine basic vices/virtues.
I always find a way back to the Enneagram because of its dynamic nature.
Some may disagree with me, but I believe it doesn't put people in boxes.
The Enneagram recognizes that we are all connected, and just have default modes that propel our lives forward. The ultimate lesson in the Enneagram is to notice our blind spots, capitalize on our strengths and ground ourselves in the gifts of the other types which all live inside of us.
What's challenging for you in your work?
Staying the course of building a business.
My enthusiasm and curiosity can have their way with me if I don't create the right structure for myself. This means I have to lock in productive work dates with accountability buddies and find tools and systems that work for me. I've learned that I can be just as focused and productive as anyone else as long as I am willing to support myself through an iterative design.
What's the greatest thing about what you do?
Being witness to what makes people’s lives sparkle above and below the surface.
Coaching is deeply rewarding for me because it’s my way of healing the world. My dad is a neurologist and my mom a nurse, so I feel connected to looking at coaching as a way to heal. For me it’s about working towards a full mental, physical and spiritual health.
I feel in complete flow by working towards this every day.
Who have been some of your mentors or biggest influences?
There are so many! Here are a few that jump out...
Annie Nogg, my own personal coach and CTI mentor. She has single handedly changed my life. I love her.
Anniemarie Estess, founder of 8count and 20rock, she is the reason I found coaching in the first place. She is a professional dancer, teacher and coach for millennials. I am constantly in awe of her positive energy, creativity and the overall quality of her work! I wouldn't be where I am without her.
My dear friend Mary Kate (who introduced me to Annemarie), the most incredible, loving, funny, brilliant, living in full color human I've ever met. She has taught me how to live in my own lane in life, never give up on my dreams, and heal the world with radical love and unshakable compassion. She's also a soul-cycle instructor from San Francisco. If you want to experience her magic, take one of her classes.
Believe it or not - my ex boyfriend Nick. He saw my potential when I couldn't so many years ago. I'm forever grateful for the belief he gave and continues to give me, even though we are marching down very different life paths.
Pema Chodron, the beloved author of When Things Fall Apart, Heart Advice for Difficult Times.
She taught me the meaning of the most important lesson I've ever learned, which is to appreciate "the preciousness of impermanence."
What's your life mantra?
"Put yourself in the way of beauty." (Thank you Cheryl Strayed.)
Do you have any books or resources you would recommend for people to check out?
- "When Things Fall Apart, Heart Advice for Difficult Times" by Pema Chodron
- "The Wisdom of The Enneagram" by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson
Okay so. Wow, right?
I needed good book recommendations - BADLY, and these ones are life changers. I also love her life advice, and the things keeping people from realizing their true potential.
How true is that? I know a lot of it rings true for me personally. Hearing her journey, from corporate life as a Director, and moving towards her true passion is nothing sort of super INSPIRING.
Man, being connected to babes like this is truly one of the best parts of having a blog. If you know anyone you'd like me to interview - let me know!
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. Also let me read your blog posts this week! Link them!