Jessica Pettitt Joins Us On The Steve Jobs Inspired Join Up Dots Podcast
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Introducing Jessica Pettitt
Jessica Pettitt joins us today on the Steve Jobs inspired Join Up Dots business coaching podcast.
She is a lady who is inspired to take bold action everyday to inspire everyone that she meets, to want to take action too.
Do the scary things that hold us back from greatness?
Challenge the status quo, and find better ways to live for not just yourself, but the communities around you?
Accept diversity as the magic that makes this planet the wonderful and fascinating place that we live.
How The Dots Joined Up For Jessica
She brings 10+ years in Student Affairs, 5+ years of national consulting work, and 2+ years of stand up comedy into her life.
Everyday as part of her mission to inspire change, dismantle oppression, and recognize our privilege she inspires.
Through teaching, writing and facilitating tough conversations, she has figured out how to be the change she wants to be, and is now ready to teach others how to do the same.
So when did she realise that there was a need in her to stand up and state “I am social justice” which just happens to the name of her blog too!
And does she see a changing in opinions and attitudes throughout the world, as we look to accept who we are and more importantly who others are too?
Well lets find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Jessica Pettitt.
During the show we discussed such weighty topics such as:
How she rejects customers that she doesn’t feel are a good fit for her business.
Which is a realisation that so many new entrepreneurs will fail to grasp but makes so much difference to your happiness.
How she considers life to be like riding two horses at the same time. It might be unstable but you need to control both to get to where you are going.
Why it made such an impact in her to see her fathers friends being so open and vulnerable as to their issues when she was a child.
How she likes the concept of living your life backwards…reversing engineering to gain the success that we all want.
Why she believes that we should try to only control the things in our lives that we can do something about, and just let the others pass us by.
How To Connect With Jessica Pettitt
Return To The Top Of Jessica Pettitt
If you are inspired by the conversation with Jessica Pettitt, then check out the amazing Wally Schmader, Cameron Brown, Kristin Addis and Dan Lok
If you want our whole collection of shows then jump over to the podcast archives here
Audio Transcription Of Jessica Pettitt Interview
When we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling. Join Up Dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK, David Ralph.
David Ralph [0:22]
Yes, hello world. How are you looking forward to another episode is the 21st of December is the shortest day. So it is on our way to summer tomorrow, you’ll wake up in the morning and you’re literally be running around in shorts and bikinis. It’s going to be amazing, as is today’s conversation, because today’s guest is a lady who is inspired to take bold action every day, to inspire everyone that she meets, to want to take action to do the scary things that hold us back from greatness, challenge the status quo and find better ways to live but not just us self. But the communities around you accept diversity as the magic that makes this planet a wonderful and fascinating place that we live. She brings 10 years in student affairs five years plus of national consulting work, and two years of stand up comedy into her life every day, as part of their mission to inspire, change, dismantle oppression, and recognise our privilege through teaching, writing and facilitating tough conversations. She has figured out how to be the change she wants to be, and is now ready to teach others how to do the same. So when did you realise that there was a need in her stand up and stay? I am social justice, which just happens to be the name of our blog, too? And does she see a changing and opinions and attitudes throughout the world? As we look to accept who we are? And more importantly, who others are too? Well, let’s find out as we bring on to the show to start Join Up Dots the one and only Jessica Pettitt
Jessica Pettitt [0:22]
How are you Jessica? I’m Wonderful. Thank you for that. did not do you justice. I know
David Ralph [0:22]
you’re I am. I’m justice. But was that justice.
Jessica Pettitt [2:02]
was great. I wish you would travel on the road with me.
David Ralph [2:05]
We would have fun when way where would you take me first?
Jessica Pettitt [2:10]
wherever my suitcase is pointed, that was the best introduction I think I’ve ever gotten.
David Ralph [2:15]
Well, you deserve because you want somebody that I’ve been looking around the internet for about a week or so. And it’s quite hard to pin you down. You look very different in literally every photo I’ve seen. And as I’ve been researching, I’ve been thinking is this the same lady? One minute, you got blonde hair next minute you got dark hair, long hair, short hair, you are somebody who who changes changes a lot. Is that part of your fabric?
Jessica Pettitt [2:41]
I think so. And right now it’s hot pink, if you’re interested. I think it’s really pink. Yeah, it really is. I think that that embracing change, externally and internally is really important to me. And so I do think that, oddly, my hair as an accessory is kind of a piece of that. I also try the cliche word authenticity comes up a lot for me too, and that I really tried to look like my current pictures. But I changed my hair every month. So I get bored. And I like doing different things. So there’s a lot of pictures of me looking different.
David Ralph [3:24]
So what is a colour that you you’ve gone with? And you bought after maybe a day or two? Now Actually, this was one step too far? or How are you somebody that doesn’t find that step too far.
Jessica Pettitt [3:36]
I haven’t yet. The hot pink is the first time I’ve had a colour that is not like a typically occurring hair colour. And I actually really like it and have gotten odd, an odd number of compliments on it. The blonde is probably the most controversial people hate it or love it. And I really just worry about the texture of my hair and what damage I’m doing. And any my first grey hair I found in ninth grade. So I think if I were to ever go back to my natural colour, I would probably age a couple of decades instantaneously. Now, Grace good, isn’t it?
David Ralph [4:18]
Because I think that if you are a lady, and this is a sweeping generalisation, but hey, it’s my show, so I’m going to do it. If you are a lady with short hair, and it’s grey, when you’re kind of, you know, funky and punky and all that kind of stuff. If you are a lady with long grey hair, men, you’ve just got too many cats in your life.
Jessica Pettitt [4:40]
There is a woman the other day at a we went out to lunch, and she had this beautiful like snowflakes silver hair. And it probably went down to her waist and she had it all on these very intricate braids. And it was just gorgeous and looked very time consuming.
David Ralph [4:57]
Let’s go great together, Jessica on. I’m embracing it Don’t fight don’t fight it. You will faint Excel business. If you’re going to be great. That’s you. That’s what you want? Isn’t it to be authentic?
Jessica Pettitt [5:10]
In theory, yeah, I’m just not ready for it.
David Ralph [5:16]
To authentic. So when you meet people, and you are somebody that is obviously a people person, and most of your work seems to be dealing with communication, whether in group scenarios or individuals. Do you put on a persona? Do you play different roles depending on who you’re dealing with? And what sort of environment you’re in?
Jessica Pettitt [5:41]
That’s a really astute question. And I try really hard not to. And when I say that, of course, there’s always you know, my own insecurities will fire and so I will adjust the language that I use, I have a lot of visible tattoos like or if I more remember, I’m in a particular setting where I think that that’s somehow inappropriate. I don’t know what that means. I’ll leave my jacket on. But usually it’s about me trying to be what I think other people want me to be without actually engaging in that conversation. So I try really hard to kind of catch myself in that moment and ask questions instead of kind of hiding behind my insecurities. But like, everyone, I’m not super perfect at it. But I also refuse to be a character. Like, I’m just me.
David Ralph [6:37]
Well, what do you mean by you refuse to be a character. So you, you don’t play up to that role. You’re not like Bruce Willis, for example, we always expect him to be running around the building shooting people, you,
Unknown Speaker [6:50]
David Ralph [6:52]
just yourself, but slight variations of yourself.
Jessica Pettitt [6:57]
Right? I mean, I think that having confidence in your insecurities really allows you to be no pun intended, but good enough now. And what I mean by that is, is that I would rather be the same person at the grocery store, as I am on stage as I am on a 4am flight, as I am over a pizza buffet. And what I realised is that that’s the person I’m really good at being my grandmother always used to say, and evidently Oscar Wilde also is a credited for saying this, I don’t know how my grandmother would feel about that. But be yourself. Everybody else is taken.
David Ralph [7:36]
But that’s brilliant, isn’t it? It is it’s brilliant. And you’ve touched on something that we talked about so many times on this show, because the audience, their listeners are the kind of guys who are sitting in their cubicles, they’re on the train them on the bus, they’re leaving a busy life, but they want something different. And one of the things that we always say is if you want that difference, try and find the thing that you naturally do. And one of the things is you naturally do yourself, don’t here you are you are, it’s easier to be yourself and anybody else. But the world has got into this routine of playing roles, and you go into corporate world and you play serious, even if that’s not your natural character, you go into other environments, and you kind of become a chameleon, but what is the expected, so we we should really get that message out. But once you start tapping into who you are, your strengths come out, your talents come out, life kind of gets easier somehow, and you enjoy yourself as well.
Jessica Pettitt [8:38]
Right. And I think that, especially when when I started my own business, I planned on not being the right fit for everyone. And I know a lot of people, specifically women, who are trying to create a business to be what everybody else needs. And if you’re, if you’re chasing everybody else’s needs, you can’t satisfy your own. So if if I built the foundation of my business, knowing that I would not be a perfect fit for everyone. So when that happens, I kind of say like, Oh, thanks, this isn’t a good fit. Let me introduce you to someone that I think would be and my identity, my sense of self, my brand, things like that can stay really true to me, I can still be of service to that particular customer. And I don’t have to bend over backwards to be someone I’m not.
David Ralph [9:27]
Well, once again, and I think I think we with creating a blueprint for success here, really, because what you’re saying is, when you start off on an entrepreneurial journey, so many people will grab every opportunity that they can have to get money. And quite often they will leave a corporate gig, if that’s their choosing. And because they don’t like the boss, or they don’t like the situation, and they almost recreate it by having eight bosses and a worse situation. Because they can’t say no. So be you to set your stall out, say, Look, I’m not going to please everyone, but I want to please myself. And if I think that you are somebody, but I’m gonna like working for vain, you’re going to get my hundred percent value. Somebody else who I think they’re going to be a bit of a pain, I don’t even want them in my life. Why can’t I have a happy life? Perfect, isn’t it?
Jessica Pettitt [10:19]
Right? I mean, I, I think that there’s some ego involved as well. But I try to keep in check. But I remember when I graduated graduate school, when I was applying for jobs, I my resume was in Comic Sans font, which is kind of a cartoony font, certainly not considered a professional font. And I remember my cohort members were like, what are you doing, you are never going to get a job. And I remember saying like, at that particular time, it was in the year 2000. And it was definitely the applicants market, there were plenty of jobs, not like it is today. And I remember saying like if a font is that big of a deal, I don’t want to waste my time interviewing with them. And that’s a pretty egotistical way to go into your first major job search.
David Ralph [11:09]
When I agree with you totally that that’s one of those kind of statements, I understand what you’re saying. But in many ways, you’re shooting yourself in the foot as well on you.
Jessica Pettitt [11:20]
Totally, and I got a job. You know, so when i when i first dyed my hair, hot pink, a number of people were like, you know, are you ever going to get any speaking gigs? And I’m I said, I’m going to get speaking gigs that don’t mind I have hot pink hair.
David Ralph [11:36]
So so let’s sort of frame what you do for a living, because I’m sure a lot of the listeners are sitting there fascinated by what you’re saying, but wondering actually what you do. So what what do you do if you could if we were sitting in a bar, having a drink, and I Swan up to you and say, Tell me about yourself? How would you actually explain what you do for a living?
Jessica Pettitt [11:58]
I think the main thing I do is take people’s abstract ideas, and turn them into very manageable actionable items. So whether that is a challenging conversation around diversity, whether that is embracing different identities and how we communicate across difference from a broader, more social justice self reflective place, or if it’s really just trying to figure out what you’re supposed to do on Monday, when you’re not perfect. You don’t have the perfect team, you don’t have the perfect resources. How do we do this, but the emphasis on do versus like achieve mastery in success and excellence. Like, let’s just work with what we’ve got and do the best we can. I think that that’s probably the strongest message that I can give other people. But it’s also, I think that when people are professional speakers or facilitators or consultants like me, we often need our message the most. And so I also in doing my work, remind myself that I’m doing the best I can with what I got.
David Ralph [13:09]
And you, you gentlemen, yourself.
Jessica Pettitt [13:12]
I tried to be I mean, I’m an Olympic athlete and being hard on myself as well. But I tried to, I try to be kind. And if I’m kind to myself, perhaps it will become a habit. And if it becomes a habit, maybe I can accidentally do it to other people.
David Ralph [13:29]
Because I’m in a situation in this role. And I go through, I used to say I never got stressed. And now I think that’s rubbish. I’m just very good at dealing with stress. And the reason that I thought I never got stressed was I had a stress related heart attack, which I never thought was anything other than a heart attack. But it turned out to be stress. And I’ve mentioned it on the show. So now I know that stress is in me, it just comes out in a different way to other people, but with yourself. How do you sort of deal with that? Because that’s a key point, isn’t it? What you’re saying really is, you’re gentle with yourself, because you’re putting too much pressure on where you want to be more than where you are at the moment, which is one of this stopping points to so many journeys. But people start something, thinking that they’re going to be further ahead within a couple of months. And when they’re not, they start sort of fretting and beating themselves up because the journey isn’t going as they want. So they they either give up, or they put too much pressure on themselves. So you feel that same way, even with your success, and you’re standing at the moment. But there’s times you’ve got to go now Hang on. This is this is good enough to use that phrase again. And we’re going to mention while we’re saying that phrase, but this is good enough at the moment.
Jessica Pettitt [14:46]
Right. And I think that if I could take it even one step further is that I think the more stressful paralysis, that pattern that we typically fall into is before we even get to self reflection. We’re like, why are all these people doing this? Why are they driving that way? Why are they stressing me out? Why don’t they change their mind. And we we focus on things outside of ourselves outside of our control, which is incredibly stressful and impossible to actually control. So from that piece to even just being stressed out about yourself, that’s actually progress. So if you can, like realise that you’re stressed out about yourself, your own behaviours, and what you can control some of the time, that’s actually a step of progress and can accidentally be motivating, then when you actually are to use the language I liked how you worded have been kind to oneself, that by restoring some humanity to yourself, and understanding your own patterns and how you show up in a relationship or how you show up at the grocery store. When you’re more self aware, in my opinion, that is actually claiming responsibility for your conscious and unconscious behaviours, that’s working with your own judgments and assumptions. And in the broader conversation of social justice, I think claiming individual responsibility and doing your own homework, that it’s self motivating versus self stressing. Because you can actually control yourself some of the time
David Ralph [16:19]
is interesting, though, isn’t it about as humans, and I just know that it’s going to be the same in America is going to be the same in Australia, wherever you go, we’re more likely to focus in on what’s annoying us and irritating us. But we can’t control. You know, you come into your house, and your kids are like left plates all over the floor. Does a plate really Bobby it? Well, yes, it does. And it really sort of gets up on the nose. But actually, when you in yourself, you don’t consider that there’s anything that you’re doing, which is irritating them. And so it’s it’s human, it’s a melting pot, aren’t you are? Where do you put the control? Do you put the control on outside situations that you can’t really control? Or do you try to control how you react to those things?
Jessica Pettitt [17:09]
Like if I don’t have children, but let’s go with your example of your kids leaving plates on the floor. Most people I know, would be mad at their kids for lack of discipline. And then they would internalise that as somehow being disrespectful to them, or evidence of their terrible parenting skills.
When in reality, they just didn’t put the plate up.
So like, I think it’s important for us to be able to take a second and be like, is this really that big a deal? Or am I Is there a pattern of me constantly feeling victimised and disrespected? If that’s the case, I need to do my work. That’s not about a plate?
David Ralph [17:49]
Well, yeah, yeah, I agree with that. Totally. I always say to the why I say let the trouble is. People out there are ideas, and they’re always going to be ideas, and you just have to choose how you actually deal with it. And I kind of go by what you were saying at the beginning, really on this conversation. I wasn’t expecting to get into this area. But I do think it’s, it’s very valuable for people out there listening into this, to realise that so much of your effort and energy levels, on a daily basis is focused on things you can’t do anything about. So you get down to the railway station, because you got to get to work and the train doesn’t turn up and you get stressed, I got to get on that train. But actually, what can you do, you can’t do anything. So you should just try to relax. And that was easy to say to be done.
Jessica Pettitt [18:34]
But and I think that it’s completely illogical to think that anybody can like do this 100% of the time, but even saying like people are idiots. So what are you going to do about it? It’s really important to remember that people are made up of individual human beings. I am an individual human being Argo, I am an idiot. So when someone when someone is doing something that is just so idiotic, I want to like freak out, really try some of the time and stop and be like, when have I done something similar? and meet other people feel like this, then you can use that as a place of empathy and be like, Okay, well, that’s a really an annoying habit. So maybe I shouldn’t do that. So
David Ralph [19:17]
if we start taking you back in time, which I like to do on Join Up Dots, you’re in a place now, but you seem very comfortable where you are, you are rocking and rolling, you are challenging, you are pushing people to be better than they are now. But were you always like that as a small child? Were you somebody that was always looking for self improvement? Or is this something that you’ve eased into over a period of time? I
Jessica Pettitt [19:46]
don’t want to be a pain, but I feel like the answer is yes to both. I, my father was a entrepreneurial spirit, and surrounded himself with like motivational sayings on large flip chart paper and was always doing self work and you know, cassette tapes in the car. And that was very normal, very normal experience in my life. And I was a daddy’s girl, and I spent a lot of time with him. So I always knew that my biggest role in this life was to be a learner. Everyone in my family was also highly educated, which is, of course, a giant privilege. Some of which were actually educators, but PhDs and contributing to the field of education was was something that was highly respected. But I also came from a lot of family members who were alcoholics, and we did not talk about mental health issues, we did not take responsibility for our behaviours, there’s a lot of things that just kind of never got talked about. Most of my family members died pretty young. And we never really talked about the impact of grief, or what it feels like when you lose someone in your family. We were always just invisibly strong whether we liked it or not. Um, so I think I grew up, kind of with one foot in both places. And in my adulthood, I want to have less of a veneer and more of a reality based life that is open to learning and being vulnerable, but is also
a regular accessible person. It’s funny, I’ve
David Ralph [21:35]
had so many conversations, and so many childhoods are based around their dads having motivational tapes and books. And I’ve never heard one storey when the mom was like that, it always seems to be the dad was playing him in the car always was I’m reading stuff at home. And what was your mom internet kind of positive vibe as well? Or is it? Is it kind of man the thing that we go looking for answers? Because in my my house, I’m very much like that as well. I love all that kind of stuff. My wife, take it or leave it really. And she would just generally Leave it. So what was your mom like?
Jessica Pettitt [22:13]
Well, I did. My mother was an organiser for sure. I don’t know that she collected as many resources as my father did. But in I think my my mother started the teachers union in the state of Texas, which is a very conservative place that is very anti unions. I think that her style was much more to have people over for meetings. I never knew what happened in those meetings. But I in retrospect, realised that I learned I got to meet a lot of very powerful women who were very discreet with their power. And then through my dad’s access, who was a professional bodybuilder and power lifter and sold Nautilus sports equipment, I got to meet very bravado based ego based giant, giant men, and watch them be really vulnerable. And when they were kind of in the house around the table, they talked about things that they were struggling with, and things that they were wondering about are questions they had. And so I think that i think that i had exposure to both, but I don’t think that my mother was as much of a consumer as my father was literally financially, or the constant hunger to learn from other people’s mistakes. I think she was much more of a Dewar.
David Ralph [23:39]
What will you fascinated about these big gentlemen would be so vulnerable, because that that’s kind of in many ways that isn’t a manly trait, is it? We we kind of bottle it up, and then we have heart attacks and die. So were you as a sort of child, were you aware that that probably 20 years ago, whatever it was, it was sort of going against norms somehow.
Jessica Pettitt [24:01]
Absolutely. And I mean, my father did die of a massive heart attack while he was on a treadmill, probably related to stress. But I think that at the time, when I was a kid, I really liked WWF shoes like World Wrestling Federation. And because of my dad’s access, I met he introduced me to this one particular wrestler, whose character was a bad guy and had the previous week had been very bad or mean to my favourite wrestler, I think he blinded him. And eventually his blindness was resolved. But um, so the bad guy comes out to the pool with my father, my father’s introducing me having no idea he’s introducing me to like that my arch nemesis in the Wrestling World. And it was really hard to be mad at him. Because one, he’s standing in front of me, and I’m trying to be polite, but he was really nice. And he had this like, very kind of small voice about him. And he had had ordered a sandwich. And he offered me half a sandwich. So I mean, it’s interesting, when you asked at the beginning, like if I were to go back to childhood or whatever, but it’s moments like that, where I had written an entire storey about Chris Adams, and that was the wrestlers character name. And he was so mean and cheated, and so evil and blinded my favourite wrestler. And then 72 hours later, I’m at a pool at a convention centre hotel, or my dad’s hosting a power lifting meet, sharing a sandwich with a guy, I think his real name was drawn. And we’re just eating a sandwich like normal people. And I think that that it gave me lessons to not be terribly intimidated by people. Because no matter what, they all have some kind of normal vulnerable side where they eat a sandwich by the pool. And if you can picture big scary people eating a sandwich by the pool, I think that it just makes the world more accessible to me. I was also terribly privileged because of my mother’s action oriented organising pieces. I’m terribly privileged that I never, ever thought I couldn’t do something.
David Ralph [26:14]
And you really feel that strongly. But you were, it was your right to achieve.
Jessica Pettitt [26:20]
Yeah, if not, my right isn’t as much as my responsibility to fulfil whatever it was I wanted to do. Which is a horrific privilege, right? I mean, whether that’s based on my class background, being able bodied, being a US citizen, being white being a woman, that there was a reason that I was born. And I needed to scurry as quickly as possible to figure out what that is, and pretend I was secure enough in myself to just go ahead and start doing it. And eventually I would get competent.
David Ralph [26:54]
Well, let’s play some words that really tie into that moment in your life. This is Jim Carrey,
Jim Carrey [27:00]
my father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him. And so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant. And when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job. And our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.
David Ralph [27:27]
That kind of says where we are in the conversation, doesn’t it?
Jessica Pettitt [27:30]
That is beautiful. Yes.
If, if you constantly seek rejection, then at some point in time, you will fail and succeed.
David Ralph [27:44]
How did you overcome that bow? You know, Jim, Jim, saying you could find it something that you hate. So you might as well have a go at doing something that you love. But how to overcome that kind of almost brainwashing van, there’s a site through and there’s a risky route, and we all have to go to safe route. And that’s what people do they, they get jobs, even if they don’t like it, and they do 40 years. And then the boss comes in one day and says, We don’t need you anymore, and is Oh my God, I’m on the risky side. So how do you actually make that decision to go out and find something that you love?
Jessica Pettitt [28:20]
One of the images that comes to mind when I get asked these kind of questions is again, I’m from Texas, but it’s about riding two horses at once. So if I’m standing on top of two horses holding the reins, one of them is the the risk taker, I got this super confident egomaniac course. And the other one is asked questions, avoid risk, be humble, experience, humility, constantly learn. But the key is, is that you have to hold both of them in order to move forward. And I’ve been fired a million times I’m a recovering from Holic, like I’ve had a lot of opportunities to say, See, you’re wrong. But instead, what I typically do is feel wrong for a short period of time, dust myself off, get back on my horses and keep going and try.
David Ralph [29:16]
I love that about the horses, because that’s it, that’s a perfect image, isn’t it, that one needs the other. And the only way that you’re going to get there is raining in the risk and holding in the other side. And ultimately, you will get movement forward, but your precariously balancing over time. And that is what life is, isn’t it. And that’s what people are frightened of the people who want more, who are listening to this show, and they want something more. But they don’t want to let go of what they’ve got. And you can understand that. But it comes a time when you’ve got to go, I’m going to write those two horses and see what happens. You know,
Jessica Pettitt [29:54]
I think that even I’m really happy. And my hands are empty, because I don’t know what else is coming. So it if you’re if you’re constantly open for something even better to happen, then you don’t have a death grip on what you currently have. And I think it’s that, that control need. And worrying about how other people may be judging you, etc, that we kind of death grip what we have, and we can’t really enjoy it. And we don’t really experience it. And sometimes we can kill it by holding onto it so strongly. And I really I like the image of this kind of galloping ride. And we’ll see where we end up going
David Ralph [30:41]
is that that’s what the journey is about. And that’s what makes life so exciting. I was talking to a chap this morning who is just about to set off or next year he’s about to set off. He’s in training to cycle around the world, hitting every continent. So he’s got to do seven continents, and he’s got to do the Americas. He’s got to do and Kartika imagine riding a bike on Antarctica, I don’t know how he’s going to do it. But all the way around. He’s dressed as Superman when he’s doing it. And he just wants to see if he can achieve it. make people smile, earn enough money for charity, but give it a go. And I said to him, you know, how do you know that you’re going to do it? And you said, don’t you said I might fail after the first mile I might, you know, pull a hamstring or whatever. But you gotta give it a go. And that says so much about life, doesn’t it? And that’s, that’s, that’s what makes it exciting for me, the fact that you don’t actually know the answers. And I bet if you speak to anyone out there, if you speak to Jessica Patty, if you speak to Richard Branson, if you speak to Barack Obama, none of them really know how they got there. They’ve just kept on trying, trying trying.
Jessica Pettitt [31:50]
Yeah, I think that that I can leave, I can live a very calculated following directions turn left now, kind of life. And what I’ve eventually realised is if I’m kind of pulling from Bernie Brown is that if you have this super controlled life, there’s no room for joy. And the bad things still happen, right? So when you still have unexpected stuff that happens, it just tends to be mostly unexpected bad stuff. Because you’ve left no room for anything of any kind of joy, a surprise to occur. So if you can let that go a little bit, yes, you may experience more bad things, but they’re going to happen anyway. And you may experience more joyous things. And to be honest, I probably didn’t experience as much joy before, because I was too busy preparing for the worst. And I just don’t, I don’t want to live my life that way. And I have experienced a lot of painful situations. And they’ve all I know, this sounds really cliche, but they’ve all made me who I am. And I don’t know anybody else. So I want to be a resource to as many people as possible. And the best way I can do that is to be the me, no matter what kind of hot mess that might be like, at least I can do this well, and nobody else can.
David Ralph [33:20]
So are you better at your job because of the darkness? Where when somebody comes to you and says, I’ve got this issue? Because you’ve been through so much does it make your your knowledge that much more powerful for them?
Jessica Pettitt [33:34]
Yeah, I do. I think that I think that there’s a strength in vulnerability that’s stronger than bravado. And that the ability to express vulnerable strength allows me to connect with other people better, and also enables me to understand that pain is pain. So whether we’re talking about death, or sexualized violence, or someone blowing out a shoulder and losing their opportunity for a baseball scholarship, or a car accident, or they go to their bag of chips and realise they ate their last one, and didn’t know that it was the last one. And there are no more chips in the bag. All of those things have an emotional response. And instead of judging one is worse than the other, I think it’s a really important way to live my life is that I want to I want to experience all of the emotional responses. And by doing that, I think I have a full Living Colour life that isn’t perfect is certainly not 100% in my control. And is as delightful as it is a struggle. And I feel like that in itself is the definition of being alive and taking responsibility for this time around
David Ralph [34:55]
you a fighter, Jessica?
Jessica Pettitt [35:00]
bubbly, I think my biggest weapon is probably sarcasm. But I
David Ralph [35:05]
love the sarcasm. No, don’t you?
Jessica Pettitt [35:09]
Yeah, I think that it’s a brilliant unifying tool. I don’t believe in being mean, I often have to work with people who they quote unquote reading each other, but they’re really mean about it. And I think sarcasm sarcasm is a team builder is a communication opener. And there’s nothing mean about it if it’s done, right.
David Ralph [35:33]
So what lights you up? And what what’s your core thing? Because I’m looking at the list again, and you’ve had a very diverse career. And the, you know, the two years of stand up comedy, right, that seems a strange one to hear. But then I thought No, well, that’s only like public speaking with a mission statement. You’re out there to make people laugh. And then your student affairs that’s about a mission statement. Is it about having missions? Did you lie? Going off the something and seeing what you can achieve?
Jessica Pettitt [36:05]
I still do definitely like that. I think that it’s it’s finding the right hole for what it is that I want to do. And I think what it is, I think, you know, we’ll see, ask me tomorrow. But today, I think what I’m supposed to do is help myself and others realise where they’re at, and take a step forward. So in working specifically, as a college administrator, I work specifically with student development. And as college students were developing their own sense of identities, they really is examining Who are you today? How can we take a step forward together? Sometimes that is through their mistakes, sometimes that is through their relationship, sometimes that’s through educational social programming. So that was that was the closest I could get to kind of the round hole that seemed like an occupation in line with what I wanted to do when I didn’t really have the full language for what it was I thought my calling was. And similar to you know, the saying you can’t put a square peg in a round hole. Of course you can, you just have to use a smaller peg. So inside of each kind of path that I chose, I tried to find what was my, my space inside of the round hole. And eventually that led me to starting my own business. And now I’m marketing my own business to corporations, or organisations or associations or college campuses or teams to figure out how can I help people evaluate and assess where they currently are, and move their organisation forward, regardless of their limitations or lack of resources or level of exhaustion. But how can we keep moving forward? I think is I think that’s what I’m supposed to do. And that is a fighter,
David Ralph [37:58]
when they went to ease he is but he said it’s a it’s not a departure. It’s just a kind of move in a slight change of direction because your blog for many, many years was I am social justice. And now you’re moving to good enough now, why are you sort of moving across is that a natural transition, or to kind of run side by side like those horses.
Jessica Pettitt [38:22]
I kind of pictures side by side and the direction is the same. I don’t want to get bored. And I also have learned a lot with the starting of my first business. And at some point in time, I need a backup plan. And I know that a backup plan can take years to form and really take hold and be successful. So I might as well start while I’m successful. Instead of when I’m desperate or freaking out. I like to think of the sitcom Seinfeld, that I really liked Jerry Seinfeld as a comedian, and as a professional, but the last episode of Seinfeld, right afterwards, he was being interviewed. And it was the number one show in the United States. Why would you end the show at the peak of its, you know, career high. And Seinfeld said at some point in time, we will go downhill and I didn’t want to do that to our fans. And I think that went somewhere along the line. I heard a metaphor about starting your own businesses like riding a bicycle. Maybe you should tell Superman this. And the idea of riding a bicycle is you’re peddling, peddling, peddling, peddling, peddling. And then at some point, you stop pedalling, and you can coast. But if you’re coasting and it’s speeding up, that means you’re actually going downhill.
David Ralph [39:50]
Yeah, I agree with that. Because I used to be a financial trainer. And there was a time that I was good. And I knew I was good. And people still talk about the courses that I used to do, like 20 years ago, I get emails from people who, who sort of email me out of the blue, like, I’ve just sat for a day’s training. God, I wish you were doing it. But I knew when my time had come to move on, I knew when people were going to say, he used to be good, but he’s not anymore, because I just felt my motivation had changed somehow. And I agree with totally with what Seinfeld and yourself is saying, There comes a time to change direction and invigorate yourself. And even if you don’t know what you’re going to do, you’ve still got to take that chance. Because after a while things get stale. Don’t know. And you’ve got to you just got to keep it vibrant somehow.
Jessica Pettitt [40:41]
Right? I mean, like I said, constantly seek rejection, every once in a while you’ll fail and succeed.
David Ralph [40:48]
So So what scares you, Ben, because a lot of things you do look quite scary from the outside, you sort of ruffle feathers, and you get up and you you try to make people laugh, which is a scary thing anyway.
Jessica Pettitt [41:01]
You know, I got asked this question the other day, and and the thing that popped up to mind, which I still think is strange, but it’s perfect for this. But when I was a kid, I learned to like lemon candy. And what I realised was is that if I like lemon or lime candy, even I ended up with way more candy. And I literally taught myself, it’s all sugar, it doesn’t matter. So I would trade all my red candy for the lemon in the lime candy, which is the one nobody ever wanted. And then I had candy for the whole year, when we were as a family dividing up house chores, I volunteered to clean the bathrooms. And I would clean the bathrooms. And in my very democratic leaning family. Nobody wanted to clean the bathroom. So it counted as double the amount of chores. So I ended up with less chores than anyone else. I just had to clean bathrooms. And I think that that kind of a way of embracing the stuff that nobody else wants, has lent itself for me to look like I do all these things that are really scary to people, but I’m just more comfortable there. The things that really scare me, I think are the things that other people just take for granted, you know that I’ve been married for nine years, we just bought a house a year ago. And I’m dumbfounded and terrified at the idea that I just planted daffodils. And I’m still going to be in this house probably still married, hopefully, probably with the same view when those daffodils bloom. And part of my persona has been you’re writing these horses go go, go go go, there was no sense of permanence. That’s a sense of passing time, I think is a new thing that I’m beginning to pay attention to. And is that
David Ralph [42:57]
because of age, and I mean that nicely. But he’s that
Jessica Pettitt [43:01]
know, age is huge. I think that it’s also about calming down. And that there’s something fierce and powerful about being completely and totally content and aware of my regrets are aware of my places of interest in growth, and, like planting daffodils. And I think that I think that this is a part of me that I’ve been very scared of. And I’ve kind of hidden from it by being this like fierce activist and super sarcastic and stand up comic and super political. And it’s really nice to just be quiet and sip a chai in my backyard watching the ocean. It’s it’s fascinating to me how lack of in touch with myself, or my commitment is shoes, or the ability to really, really, really get close with one or a few people. That has been a terrifying growth stretch for me that I think I’m doing okay with, but that that’s probably the newest challenge. I’ll take public speaking or spiders any day.
David Ralph [44:21]
It’s fascinating that that’s, that’s an amazing storey, because that there isn’t anything to be scared or but I can totally see why you’re scared. Or if you’re always seeking the next challenge, the mission striving forward, when you decide to actually slow up and look around. It’s almost like, well, I’m missing an opportunity. But of course you’re not are you in many ways you’re recharging your batteries, and you will come back stronger, because you’ve allowed yourself to assess what needs to be done. And make the most of your talents and your powers because you are, you know recharged again,
Jessica Pettitt [45:00]
I went to a forum, I do a lot of like self development workshops. I call it like intense immersion therapy weekend. But I went to one and one of the premises was that we are living our life backwards. And that we often I try to say this to myself as often as possible. But often humans are living their life as they’re going to do something so they can have something so that they can be something. But if we flip it backwards, and we just be just be that will let us have something and then we will be able to do something.
David Ralph [45:38]
Explain explain that to me. Again, I kind of lost the concept of that.
Jessica Pettitt [45:42]
Yeah, I know. And it’s hard auditory, but we tend to live our lives do have, then we can be. And if we flip it upside down, we just be what we want, then that will enable us to have something and then we will be able to do something.
David Ralph [46:00]
Okay, so we’re going full circle to playing the role. Even if we just allow ourselves to be authentic, then things will come along backward track themselves to us because they’re attracted to our authentic self, and they are naturally what we want at that time.
Jessica Pettitt [46:16]
Exactly. So I’m just being Jessica, whatever that means. And by virtue of being Jessica, I now have a successful business, close friends, an amazing relationship. I have joy in my life. And by virtue of having these things, it allows me to do something which is start businesses or help other people have difficult conversations or inspire other people motivate other people. Whereas I was doing it the other way around for a very long time where I came last. So I was you know, trying to do speeches and trying to do a business and doing marketing and hitting all that so that I could have customers so that I could have a profit so that I then could be happy.
David Ralph [47:08]
It’s good time now, you really have to get your head round it quite simply. But once you get your head around it and you think yes, just be yourself. Be yourself and the people that like you will like you the people that don’t like you, then don’t worry about them anyway. The opportunities that play to your natural strengths in your enjoy will come towards you, yourself.
Jessica Pettitt [47:31]
Yeah, one of the things that I say all the time in my diversity trainings, is people are like, well, I just don’t want to be offensive anymore. I was like, what happens if you just take responsibility for being offensive? Like instead of living in a cave, and trying not to interact with anyone else, so that you have zero unintended impact on anyone else? What if you just integrate yourself if humanity and be aware, that something you do is going to end intentionally or unintentionally have a negative impact on someone else. And if you just enter into an interaction with that you’re claiming responsibility for your conscious or unconscious behaviours. I am open to being fully available to this relationship, and it may or may not be perfect all the time, then you are open to actually having a relationship instead of writing a script for a perfect relationship that will happen someday.
David Ralph [48:29]
I’m gonna ask you a question. And it’s got nothing to do with this. But he just popped into my head. And I know, if I don’t ask it now. It’s gonna just go. But I was looking at bits and bobs about you. And there was this blog post, where you decided to wear a dinosaur mask and creep around the supermarket. Why did you do that?
Jessica Pettitt [48:54]
It’s very funny. So we were shopping, it was a target. And there were these dinosaurs masks, and I, I really like dinosaurs. I did not really get to learn much about them as a kid. And I don’t take the time to learn very much about them now. But I think that they’re just really interesting. So I put the hat on. And it’s kind of a hat mask thing. I put it on and my friend I was with said, Take that off. Those are for kids. And I just said, it doesn’t say that. It’s a hat. Like, why can’t we play. And so she agreed with me after a while that maybe she could like stop being such a stuffy adult and actually play. So she put one on to. And in doing that we ran across a group of children who were coming to get the hats for their upcoming birthday party. And we ended up running around the store chasing one another in a safe, risk managed way. Making dinosaur nose noises which was a million times more fun than going grocery shopping.
David Ralph [50:00]
When you look back at that, was that just another way of saying it’s okay to be me?
Jessica Pettitt [50:07]
I think so. It was fun.
Yeah, it was fun. And what was great is I did not buy a dinosaur hat. I had a great time with the dinosaur hat. I had a picture taken about it. It is saved in my records forever. It’s in my memory. And it is a reminder that there is zero reason why a 40 year old cannot run around a target and a T rex mask.
David Ralph [50:30]
You love being you don’t you?
Unknown Speaker [50:33]
Most of the time. When don’t you been?
Jessica Pettitt [50:37]
Oh, wait. When I get a glance at myself in the mirror and my body image and the reflection coming back at me in the mirror do not perfectly aligned. It’s really hard for me when I make mistakes. And I just have to tell myself like, yep, I’m a human. You know, I, I sent out a piece DF over an email yesterday. And it has a typo in it. And luckily someone told me about the typo. And I was like, oh, okay, well, if that really concerns them, then maybe they will not bid on this donation. But I have to be able, I get snarky about it. And then I feel like How could you be anything less than perfect. And then I just let it go.
David Ralph [51:25]
Be gentle with yourself.
Jessica Pettitt [51:27]
Be gentle and kind with yourself. Some of the time, maybe make it a habit most of the time. But occasionally, occasionally, it’s hard. You know, I’m a 40 year old woman this morning, when we were going to sign up for this call. I have the biggest zit on the end of my nose. And literally I was like, Oh, of course, because I have a Skype interview. This is going to be fantastic. Great. And then magic. I like beat myself up for my skincare regime what I ate yesterday, I should have been better prepared. You know, I should have looked closer in the mirror last night and taking care of it overnight so that I’d be like perfect for you. And I didn’t do any of that.
to magically said, Oh, it’s not a video call. Yay.
David Ralph [52:15]
You see magic happens.
Jessica Pettitt [52:19]
Right? And I’m not the only person in the world who’s ever had is it on their nose?
David Ralph [52:24]
I do come at the worst times. It’s true, isn’t it? The real big ones. The real doozy ones are always at the worst time when you’re going out on a date or something when you’re a youngster it’s it’s never when you’re just got a week off and you’re indoors.
Jessica Pettitt [52:37]
Right. But just in time for Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, look at me being seasonally appropriate.
David Ralph [52:43]
There you go. You can put it on a blog post and we can all look at it.
Jessica Pettitt [52:47]
David Ralph [52:48]
That’s the way to do it. Well, just before we do send you back in time, the theme of the show is based around the words that Steve Jobs said back in 2005. And I would be remiss if I didn’t play them now because I’ll be fascinated to see what relevance they have to us. So base is Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs [53:07]
Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leaves you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [53:42]
How’s it made a difference to you those words?
Jessica Pettitt [53:46]
It’s so interesting that you play that part because, yes, those words in particular, the first time they kind of entered my life, I think someone sent me the TED talk or the video of that particular speech. And it gave me permission to look backwards. And that really was kind of a game changing moment for me in that I think that I had focused on only looking forward. And for lack of better words like throwing darts out like frisbees, hoping that I would connect up with them in the future. And hearing those words gave me permission to look backwards with the fear of regret the fear of, you know, owning mistakes I didn’t know about, but also the fear of acknowledging the progress I’ve made and the good things that I had experienced. And I think it really, it really shifted how I am riding the horses to keep all of my metaphors going. Yeah, that was really important to me.
David Ralph [54:57]
So what would be the big dog? I love asking this question. It’s Did you have a big.in your life when Jessica Pettitte was born that the Jessica was speaking to now?
Jessica Pettitt [55:09]
Wow, I’m sure I do. I’m sure I do. I’m quickly scanning my GPS looking for the big.um I think I would seem somewhat, or my hesitation of just like coming up with an example is I don’t want to be trite or mistreat my own life. But I also don’t want to be trite and mistreat what those kind of big moments are. I would say most recently, um, my partner and I bought a house about a year ago. And I remember I was able to put the down payment on the house. After my parents died, I had no idea what to do with the life insurance money. And I stopped some away with a financial advisor that scared me to death. And all I remembered her saying was don’t touch money until you buy a house. Okay, so now I’m getting ready to buy a house. So 20 some odd years later, I call her up. And so I call it my dad money. And the first day that I was in the new house where I am now, I made macaroni and cheese, which is what I always make the first meal anywhere I ever lived. I got a lawn chair, and I sat in the backyard. And I just felt so utterly confident in making a really smart choice with money. And that is not, that’s not a space I’m really familiar with. I’m pretty critical of most of my money related choices. And I think I think money in itself can scare me in a lot of ways. But that that’s probably my most recent Big Dot. And then I feel like I really made a smart choice. I trusted myself, it worked out and I’m happy.
David Ralph [57:00]
Do you think this is happiness to stay? Did you see that? all the dots are joining up? To put you in a position where you should be?
Jessica Pettitt [57:09]
Yeah, I wish my movie ended or my life ended like some kind of romantic movie where all the dots hold hands and walk off into the sunset together? Um, I don’t really believe I’m anywhere close to done. So I’m going to say no, I think my dots are still lifetimes apart from each other. And we’ll see how many of them I can drag near one another, this this go round?
David Ralph [57:34]
Well, let’s hope all those dots turn into stepping stones towards success because I know that you’ve got a passion and enthusiasm to take it anywhere you want. And I’m going to take you back in time now. And this is the part of the show when we send you back in time to have a one on one with your younger self. And if you could go back in time to speak to young Jessica, what age would you choose? And what advice would you give? Well, we’re going to find out because I’m going to play the theme tune and when it fades, you’re up. This is turn on the mic.
Unknown Speaker [58:07]
Here we go with the best of the show.
Jessica Pettitt [58:25]
That is such an a great opportunity even just to have a few seconds to skim back through my life. And I think what I want to do is go back to my fourth grade self. So be 1983 we had just moved from what we called the country into the big city of Dallas Plano, Texas specifically, we had just moved and because I guess the house was still being sold or we’re still moving. For the first week or so of school, we would wake up at three o’clock in the morning pile into the van driver couple of hours to play. No, I think my parents would go to work, my brother and I would go to school, we pile back in the van drive back to what soon to be our old house. And in that week, that was the first time I distinctly remember feeling like an outsider. I think I probably experienced bullying for the first time I wasn’t wearing the right clothing. I didn’t know like a sense of style. I had never been treated mainly by a group of girls or my classmates before. I also had never been treated by boys. Any way, let alone badly. I wasn’t athletic. I was smart. But the teachers didn’t know me I was new. And I think I would go back to that fourth grade self and just say it’s okay. Like this is what’s happening. You are entering a new world. They dress differently, they talk differently, they seem different. It’s okay, different is okay. I probably would not have listened to me. So I wished I wish my ability to write some note to myself that I can actually keep I’m a pretty good kind of hoarder of little things. And I think that note would come up very handy at a number of different times in my life from then. But it would start at fourth grade.
David Ralph [1:00:22]
Just how can our audience connect with you?
Jessica Pettitt [1:00:26]
My website is good enough now.com. And that is where I take the abstract and make it actionable. From there, I’m really active on Facebook, just Jessica Pettitte on Facebook. I’m trying to do the Twitter and the LinkedIn but I’m really more of a Facebook person. And I always give this out of my interviews. But if anybody wants to text message or has any questions, you’re welcome to text message me at 2026704 to six, four, I’m sorry, four to six, two 2026704 to six, two. I get text messages every day from all different kinds of people from around the world. And I’m happy to engage in any kind of conversation with anybody at any given time. That sounds like an erotic extrovert, but I’m happy to help.
David Ralph [1:01:17]
Very generous indeed. Jeff, thank you so much for spending time with us today joining those dots. And please come back again when you have more dots to join up. Because I do believe that by joining up the dots and connecting our past is the best way to build our futures. Jessica Pettit, thank you so much.
Unknown Speaker [1:01:32]
David doesn’t want you to become a fated version of the brilliant self you are wants to become. So he’s put together an amazing guide for you called the eight pieces of advice that every successful entrepreneur practices, including the two that changed his life. Head over to Join Up dots.com to download this amazing guide for free and we’ll see you tomorrow on Join Up Dots.