Hi, I’m Scott, and you’re listening to the grow smarter Show. Today, I’m joined by Jen McFarland, she helps business owners work logically and intuitively, from their biggest business goals to the smallest tasks, including gratitude based leadership, strategic project planning, and digital marketing. So stick around.
Hi, Jen, thanks for joining us today.
Jen McFarland 0:44
Thank you so much for having me.
So, who is someone that really inspires you?
Jen McFarland 0:49
Oh, wow. I mean, there’s so many people, I would say that I’m really inspired by my dad. He’s always had an amazing amount of tenacity and stick to itiveness
Then one of the people that I’ve always really looked up to was actually the first boss I ever had her name is Patricia rage. And she is still a champion for equity and human rights. And as a boss, she’s always somebody that I inspired to be, which is very supportive, cares about
people learning and stretching themselves. And, you know, there are a lot of people that are inspirational leaders, but sometimes the people closest to us who really affect us the most, and I think that’s the case with me. Oh, yeah, that’s, that’s incredible. I think my dad’s probably one of my biggest inspirations as well. And my current understanding you had volunteered with the Peace Corps. Yeah, that’s true. In fact, when you asked who inspired me, john F. Kennedy, Jr. was one of the john F. Kennedy was one of the first people who came into my head because he started the Peace Corps. My husband, and I serve to get
From 2004 to 2006, in Kazakhstan, that’s a country just south of Russia, in Central Asia, and we were English teachers. It was a very profound experience for both of us.
Oh, that’s very cool. I’m kind of familiar with that area too, my wife actually has relatives in Ukraine.
Jen McFarland 2:24
Oh, wow. That’s cool. That’s pretty wild.
Yeah. So what did you learn about projects as a Peace Corps volunteer?
Jen McFarland 2:31
Oh, well, I would say in Peace Corps, that’s when I really came to understand how much projects affect us. And it’s also when I learned how much I love projects. So when you go into the Peace Corps, you might be like, well, you’re an English teacher, what you know, what do you don’t have projects, but it’s when you realize how important it is to listen to each other. And understand that if you’re there to help somebody, which is a lot of what Peace Corps is about, what the most important things that you can do.
do is listen and understand what it is that another person actually needs. And in fact, I think that’s a really important part of growth. If you’re helping someone to grow, or change or do anything, it’s really important to hear what it is the person is actually asking for, and then help them, you know, establish a project around that goal. If we just start building out projects based on what we think we might be missing the bigger picture. And I think that’s one of the most important things that I learned, like in the big way about projects. And then it was also just about how things work and how we can all collaborate and build projects to support each other. And I guess you could say I just became passionate about projects in general and how much they can help and support and change the face of whatever it is that you’re doing. All through being in an environment that was so
Different and foreign to me, it kind of strips everything down and you realize the different things that you really love. And and that’s what Peace Corps did for me and my love of projects.
Oh, absolutely. I believe empathy is a huge key to a path to success.
Jen McFarland 4:15
Absolutely. Absolutely. It’s still carries with me today.
what’s the most important thing a business can do in implementing a change in initiative? like adding empathy and that type of thing?
Jen McFarland 4:31
Sure. I mean, I think that I think that empathy is definitely a huge, a huge part of it. I think empathy goes a long way when we talk about one of the bigger concepts around a project or a change initiative for any business, which is the importance of getting buy in. If you’re a larger organization and have a lot of employees as a project champion or leader of a business, you may not know all of the day to day operations or how what it is that you want to do.
will affect your frontline staff or people who maybe do things that you’re not as familiar with. So one of the biggest things that you can do is listen to your employees and really hear their feedback and find ways to either bridge those differences or build buy in and camaraderie around some of the other keys to what it is that you’re trying to accomplish. And there are a lot of different ways of doing that. But to me, one of the biggest, most important things that any business can do is have a lot of clarity around what it is that they’re trying to accomplish, and what the outcomes will be of that project. So many times we just have an idea and we start running with it, when we can get a lot further a lot quicker if we have absolute clarity around what it is exactly that we’re trying to accomplish in a very concise way. And then a way to communicate
Take that to others. And I think listening and empathy is another key component of communication. And then also what are the expected outcomes because when people are clear about what the project is about, and what they’re running to meaning what that ultimate goal is, and and how that delivery will change things for the business, those are the things that really are the backbone of a successful project. I absolutely agree. So why do you Why do you love helping business owners plan and execute their business project? You know, it’s, it’s interesting. So I’ve have my career actually started working on really large scale projects, projects that involve millions of dollars and affected, you know, building millions of people literally, within the city of Portland, as well as all the businesses here I’m in Portland, Oregon. And I ran into a lot of the same challenges that I think businesses run into all the time. So as I was working on these large projects, I really
What an impact I could have if I started working with smaller businesses. And that’s my passion, because I feel like there’s so many businesses that don’t have a large budget, maybe that can make a lot of mistakes. But they have really great ideas. And if we can zero in on what it is that people want to do, we can have a bigger impact not only on our communities, but on, you know, everybody else outside of our communities. And so that’s why I really love helping businesses grow. I think that too many times. People spend money on things that maybe, or they don’t set up a budget at all, and they spend money on things, and then they’re disappointed and they’re scared to carry on and grow. And what I like to do is foster that conversation around growth and how we address growth can really be most beneficial to everything that you’re trying to do.
Especially with a smaller businesses, I feel like too many people are more concerned about the numbers instead of building a community and connecting.
Jen McFarland 8:10
That’s very true. And I think that what we forget is that so much of business is based on relationships, and collaboration. And the more time that we spend in that collaborative space, the more we can be building a sustainable business. A lot of what makes project so attractive to me as a way of addressing growth is that it helps people build sustainably. A lot of what I do is about helping a business create, like a sustainable way of addressing these initiatives that they want to face and then figuring out what those commonalities are so they can do it again and again and again, and they don’t need somebody like me every time because a lot of small businesses can’t do it, but if they know and understand
And the key components of what makes a good project, then they can get other people to help them and they can begin to build and sustain that growth over the long haul. too, too often people do look just at the numbers, when, if you’re looking at a project holistically, there are so many other components that you can measure to see if you’re succeeding or not. And those are the types of things that I like to look at. It’s not just the numbers or the dollars and cents, it’s the broader array of of what’s actually happening, what kind of changes are occurring?
Oh, absolutely, you know, with with the rise of women entrepreneurs lately.Do you see any leadership gaps among those?
Jen McFarland 9:47
I mean, certainly there are leadership gaps in in every area, you know, I think certainly women, people of color, LGBTQ communities, you know, everywhere.
gaps, you know, and there are gaps among men as well, in terms of leadership, I will say that one of the things that I make a point of doing like on social media, in in other places, is making sure that when I put like a quote out there by a leader, I really try to find a woman who has said, whatever it is that I’m trying to say, because when you do things like look up leader in Google, too often, I don’t see people who look like me. I mean, I’m a, I’m a white lady, you know, I don’t see a lot of people who look like me. So one of the leadership gaps that I think that we have among women entrepreneurs is understanding that everyone is a leader. I studied leadership in as an have a master’s degree in leadership and management. And one of the things that I absolutely love is the concept of servant leadership, which means you’re a leader from wherever you sit, and I feel like as women and as entrepreneurs and just as people
In general, we can really empower each other by reminding each other, that we’re all leaders, and that we all have something to contribute. And it doesn’t matter whether or not Google shows you a picture. You know, that looks like you, because there’s a leader right in front of you. And I think that those are the gaps that we need to start closing. Just among everyone, it doesn’t matter how old you are, it doesn’t matter what your gender is, or your sexual orientation, or what color you are it, what matters is who you are as a human and what you’re doing to help us all rise up. And I think that that’s some of the gaps that that we all just face, in general, in terms of leadership and how we can all you know, help each other to be to be better and to serve better.
I love that. That’s incredible. I mean, we’re all human right? We all put our pants on one leg at a time and all that fun stuff.
Jen McFarland 11:59
So, why why do you believe that leadership, project management and digital marketing are the three foundational pieces for any business?
Jen McFarland 12:11
Oh, yeah, that’s a really good question. So I think that from a leadership perspective, if you’re running a business, then then you need to be willing to take on that role. And there’s a difference between a leader and a manager, and I think particularly in smaller organizations, but even when I was an executive in a public sector position, you know, even in large organizations too often, that that leader, whoever it is that sitting at the top of an organization, they spend a lot of time managing, instead of having that vision, right and carrying the water on the vision. They spend a lot of time managing, which would be like what’s happening with people. They’re looking at the numbers instead of, you know, charting out a course for where we’re really headed. So
One of the reasons that I think being a leader is really important is because it’s important to always remember Yes, management is important, but leadership is separate from that. And leadership is about the big vision for where you’re headed as a company, and helping to guide people within your organization, and how to get there. Now, the how to get there is kind of how we get into projects, right? So for me, you have goals are the place where, where the rubber meets the road, right, you can have a mission and vision. But it doesn’t become actionable until we start talking about goals, which is exactly what you plan to do and what you’re going to see as an outcome. Like it could be, you know, I’m going to make $50,000 in this week, or this month or this quarter, right? And then you have goals for how you’re going to achieve that in each one of those goals may be one project or a series of projects, but projects are
What takes the goals and makes makes them actionable. And if you’re not looking at your business from goals and outcomes, and then the projects that will drive you to get there, then my hope is that you have something else in place that is going to help you to organize all of these fantastic ideas that you have and and make them go and make them move. Because it does take some organization around doing that. Now digital marketing, which we haven’t talked about at all, yet is also really important. I have I work with a lot of small business owners we get through the project and they’re like, Okay, well, how do I how do I get people to know about it, and anymore, everybody has either a phone or a computer or access to a phone or a computer. And one of the easiest ways to show up and to be seen is through some form of digital marketing. And that’s another
Just on the computer, although it is most of the time presented is just being an online platform. Actually, digital marketing involves how you show up offline. So it could be your business cards and your flyers. And then it’s also online, which is kind of how you translate your business into the digital space, whether it’s a website or social media. And so, when you start looking at business holistically, it’s not just about how will you plan and execute on your projects, or the vision that you have for your business. It’s also how you show up and present yourself to others. And that’s why digital marketing is also one of my three pillars for every business.
Oh, absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. That’s definitely something to being prepared. And digital marketing, I think is that tip of that, that whole pillar or pyramid of success. So how can businesses including solopreneurs benefit from strategic project management?
Jen McFarland 16:00
Oh, yeah, so strategic project management is a particular type of project planning management that I work with my clients on. So it’s kind of a hybrid, right? Like too often people do a strategic plan and it goes in the drawer, you know, or a business plan and it goes in the drawer. This is where we make the connection between, you know, your biggest strategy, you know, your strategic plan, and the projects that you want to do. It’s very important that we’re linking things like your mission and your vision, to the projects that you want to do. Because if you have a vision or a mission for like, who you’re helping, what problems they have, and the like, it’s really important that the projects that you do, or at least one of the projects that you’re doing is directly related to that mission in that vision. And so a lot of the work that we do is helping people get clarity around, again, like the problems that they solve and then how they want to do it, and what I find
happens a lot with a solopreneur is they too much time, you know, like in the business, you know, and not working on these, you know, hair they’re working on hair on fire has to be done now type stuff, instead of really working on their business, and making sure that all of the tasks, you know, that they’ve created, which sometimes can just be more like a job than actually having that bigger vision around where they’re actually going. So it’s about making sure that all of the tasks, all of the repeated things that you’re doing time and time again, are actually driving you towards the business growth that you’re looking for helping you climb the right mountain so that when you get to the top, you’re like, yes, this is exactly what I wanted. And that’s kind of the key to like bringing in that strategic thinking into planning out your projects and executing them.
Absolutely. as an entrepreneur myself. It definitely keeps you from falling down too many rabbit holes and chasing shiny objects.
Jen McFarland 18:00
I know the shiny objects are so pretty though and I get it. And when I talk to people, I’m like, Look, I get it. The cat videos are super awesome. But just make sure that you don’t buy any.
Jen, are you working on anything new?
Jen McFarland 18:16
Oh, man, you know, lots of things. So I have this.
You know, it’s crazy. My head is exploding today. I have a lot of meetings today. I have seven new clients all in digital marketing. And it’s so exciting to help businesses that are just starting out kind of get that compass. Next week, I have a big speaking engagement to help some other businesses with their digital marketing. And then I’m also doing a lot of cool stuff in my own podcast with helping people around goals and projects, and building out some cool courses to help people work through some of their own goals and planning their own projects. So lots of great things over here. on the horizon, it’s super fun.
Scott: Yeah, that sounds awesome. Definitely staying busy.
So where can listeners find you?
Jen McFarland 19:07
Oh, yeah. So my podcast is called Women conquer business. And you can find that on any major podcasting platform. Or if you want to learn more about me, my website is Jen McFarland dot com.
I’m also on Facebook and LinkedIn and Pinterest.
Oh, that’s awesome. Thanks again, for joining us today and sharing your insights.
Jen McFarland 19:34
Yeah, sure. Thank you so much for having me.
Thanks again to Jen McFarland for joining us today and sharing her insights. Please remember to rate and review the show. It really helps new listeners find.
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