“Pivoting” might seem like a dirty word in business, but Jenny Blake has learned to embrace it. Not only that, but she’s built her career around it, becoming a business strategist, keynote speaker, and author who teaches others the positive value of pivoting.
Blake is the author of Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One, and the creator of the Pivot Method, which distills all the wisdom she’s gained throughout her career to teach you how to change your business direction without falling on your face.
Blake learned the virtues of pivoting by doing it many times throughout her career. After spending two years at a technology startup in Palo Alto, she landed a job at Google as a product trainer for AdWords. She stayed there for five years, training more than 1,000 employees and building her public speaking and career coaching skills, before she pivoted once more and set out to become a solopreneur.
She now speaks and holds workshops on the Pivot Method around the world, at companies like Intuit and Pimco, universities like Yale and MIT, and conferences like TEDxCMU and the World Domination Summit. She also runs the Pivot Podcast, which started as a passion project while she was writing Pivot and has grown into a forum for world-renowned authors and businesspeople to share their advice on how to seize opportunities and pivot like pros.
Jenny has so many great stories and insights to share in our interview, from the health benefits of practicing yoga to why reading will make you a better person. She also talks about how to get over your fears of public speaking, how meditation will make you a better entrepreneur, and how you can use the Pivot Method to succeed in business and improve your personal life.
To learn more or connect with Jenny, visit the Pivot Method website or her personal website. You can also check out Momentum, her private community for solopreneurs and side-hustlers, or consider signing up for Pivot Coaching if you’re looking for some help to make your own pivot a success.
In this episode with Jenny Blake, you’ll learn:
- How to use your job as training for entrepreneurship (12:45)
- How to conquer a fear of public speaking (15:34)
- Why meditation will make you a better entrepreneur (23:30)
- How to use the Pivot Method to improve your personal life (36:18)
- How to make successful pivots in business and life (39:56)
- How to succeed in your career by embracing pivots (44:06)
Please enjoy this interview with Jenny Blake.
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Coming at you from VERGE headquarters in Indianapolis, across the airwaves, or I guess through the cloud, onto your phones and onto your laptops, into your headphones, your car stereo, your ear holes everywhere. I’m Matt Hunckler With powderkeg igniting startups, Episode 17. And in this conversation, we’re gonna have some fun with a former Googler turned a business strategist and the author of the book pivot, the only move that matters is your next one.
It’s so easy to fill our minds with other people’s ideas, I think it’s so important to take the time that we have to breathe and slow down and silence can be so beautiful to be able to hear ourselves think or not think if a goal is to slow our minds down.
That’s Jenny Blake grew up in San Francisco, and called in from her current sanctuary nestled in the heart of New York City. And what’s particularly cool about this interview with Jenny is that every January, she lives abroad to experiment with running her business from anywhere. But I was lucky enough to catch Jenny right after her return from a huge keynote speech for World Bank and coming right off the heels of a silent retreat. Now we have a really fun conversation that jumps around a little bit. But we cover some of my favorite topics, including public speaking for business, mindfulness, and even yoga, and how to pivot like a pro. That journey and the lessons learned along the way, coming up on powderkeg igniting startups, where each week we share the untold stories of innovation, leadership and technology beyond Silicon Valley. I’m your host, Matt Hunckler. And I’m the founder and CEO of verge, which is a network of local communities with global reach for tech entrepreneurs, investors and top talent outside of Silicon Valley. And as my team and I have grown verge over the past seven years, we’ve hosted more than 1000 entrepreneurs at our events around the world. Those founders have gone on to raise more than $500 million in capital collectively. And they’re disrupting industries, creating wealth and changing the world. That’s why we started this podcast. Each guest has their own powderkeg full of raw skills and talents that’s ignited their startups and fueled their growth. These are their stories. You can find me on Twitter and on Instagram at Hunckler. That’s H UNCK L E R and let me know how verge and powderkeg. And I can help you with your entrepreneurial journey. In the meantime, please make sure you subscribe to The powderkeg wherever you listen to your podcasts. We’re on SoundCloud, Stitcher, all the major podcast outlets, including of course, iTunes, you can find us on iTunes using our handy link powderkeg.co/itunes. And using that link, you can subscribe make sure you don’t miss a single episode, not a single conversation that we have here. And I just want to give a huge shout really quick to all of you powderkeg guests out there who have already left us a review. It’s your feedback and sharing that helps us reach so many more people and this community that we’re growing is so inspiring. It’s what keeps me coming back here every single day making sure we’re bringing the best guests to you with every episode. Thank you. powderkeg is brought to you by developer town and developer down helps enterprise companies move like a startup. I’ve seen it firsthand. Corporate innovators often work with developer town to explore software solutions that support their core business needs. By leveraging their years of experience working with startups, developer town is able to help companies better understand the viability of potential software solutions, and quickly bring them to market. Developer town has created a proven sprint to market process. So large enterprises can move like a startup. Find out more at developer town.com/powderkeg. That’s developer town.com/powderkeg. Developer town. Start something. Today, we’re talking with Jenny Blake, and we have such a cool conversation for you. Jenny’s background is amazing. She spent over a decade working in web development and started her career working at a startup in Silicon Valley for two years. Now she left that company to go and join another tech company. You might have heard of it. It’s called Google. Yes, she was at Google for more than five years doing training, coaching and career development. And during her time there, she taught and coached best practices to Google executives all over the world. And she also is an author. One of the cool things about her is that she’s written two books. Her first one and her best selling book life after college was based on her blog by the same name, as well as her new book pivot which came out in 2016. We talk a lot about that. And some of the frameworks from that book that you can apply in your business literally today if you want to. Jenny has been running her own location independent small business since 2011. She’s given international keynotes and workshops at top companies and universities such as Google, Yale, Parsons, MIT, UCLA, TEDx, CMU, Intuit KPMG. PIMCO Best Buy, I could go on and on, there’s a lot of companies here, listed. So with some of that background, and some of her expertise, just wanted to get some of that out of the way, because we dive right in. So let’s set this thing off. Jenny, thanks so much for being here. Today, I really enjoyed reading your book, and getting into some of what you’re doing with pivot and the pivot method. Your podcast is amazing as well. And it was really cool to see you featured in that article on entrepreneur.com with all of these other amazing female podcasters how’s everything going there?
Thank you so much. The podcast has been this secret love that emerged out of nowhere, I was not expecting to enjoy it as much as I do. But I thought, you know, I was working on Pivot, it took about three years from start to finish. And I thought, Well, it’d be nice, I’m interviewing people anyway, I might as well record these and have a podcast companion that goes with the book, so that as people are reading pivot, they can also hear live stories from the people and the experts that I’m interviewing. And then as I was working on the book, it just became this passion project, I had so much fun, and I still do getting to interview my author heroes, and getting access to people in a way I never anticipated. People like Kevin Kelley, and he’s a co founder of Wired Magazine. For anyone who isn’t familiar, things like that. Kevin Kelly, Martha Beck, I mean to some of my author heroes, getting to have them on the phone and talk to them one on one is just incredible. And people and then talking to you, Matt, like being able to be a guest on podcast has also been really, really fun. And kind of the I found with this book launch, it’s my second book, The My favorite way to get out there because it’s so authentic, we get to just shoot the breeze and have a conversation and people get to listen in. And so it’s been really rewarding.
Well, absolutely, and you do such a good job with it, you really get a sense of who you are, what you’re all about, and how you’re going about continuing to learn. You know, I love that. In your bio, you’ve mentioned you know, you’re a bookworm, always consuming all kinds of different books. And of course, writing books of your own. And I want to make sure we dive into your book pivot, or your more most recent book pivot at some point during this conversation, but I I’d love to learn a little bit more about what makes you tick, because you’re clearly passionate about learning, you’re clearly passionate about technology. And I’m curious to know if some of that is because you grew up in San Francisco.
I think a big part of it. My mom was really good about getting computers when they first who would like the Apple to see came out or so early computers, I really started teaching myself software, desktop publishing. Early on, I taught myself coding at my first job out of college, I’ve always enjoyed figuring out technical things. And then I’ve also always enjoyed learning and sharing and teaching. I used to make my brother play school when we were kids, like I would make him worksheets and make him fill them out because I wanted him to be learning what I was learning and kind of get ahead of the game for his age group. And that’s not much different from what I’m doing now with a blog and a book of creating worksheets for people to learn and grow and accelerate their life somehow.
It’s the new version of school, right? Like it’s it’s continuing education for us as people that were nerded out when we were in school, right? Totally.
And you asked what makes me tick. And yes, it’s reading and learning and growing. But also whenever I go through something challenging, or I feel that I’ve been through a really inefficient process, I love to synthesize whatever I’ve learned and figure it out and try and somehow make a map that makes it easier for other people who might go through the same thing. So my first book life after college, that came from reading hundreds of books, just trying to figure out how to be an adult in the world. And I found I felt it was inefficient. So I created this book that’s, I call it a portable life coach for 20 Somethings. Same thing with pivot, I went through a time multiple times, where I felt like I was losing my mind trying to answer the question what’s next. And so it was really rewarding for me to channel those dips, those low moments in my life, and as I figured them out, become really determined to improve and help people go through that process in the future.
Well, and one of the things I really appreciate about how you describe that in your writing and even in your talks is that a lot of people could frame this as all glamorous and you know, stars and sunshine and rainbows but one of your quotes that stuck with me was courage is a hot mess.
Yeah, that was from I spoke at the World Domination Summit in 2012. And I said, sometimes garage is a hot mess. It’s not always pretty. It’s not shiny, but it means that we’re afraid and we’re taking steps anyway. And however it looks how are, you know, it’s not always just this shiny, perfect image of perfection that gets translated through social media. And yet, we did. So to not take it personally if you feel anxious or fearful or uncertain, as you’re starting a business growing a business pivoting a business, that courage is to continue. It’s not about looking good all the time while you do it.
Absolutely, I think it makes things much more not only relatable, but interesting to read, it’s educational, if we’re not willing to share our failure, or share our struggle along the way, you’re not getting the whole learning.
I agree. There’s nothing interesting to me about a sanitized version of success. And even when I’m on stage, I recently got feedback as a speaker that a lot of people loved the speech that I gave, and then one person said, she didn’t spend enough time establishing credibility, I wasn’t sure why I should be listening to her because I tend to focus so much on what my challenges are and my struggles and what’s not working. Because that’s what I find most interesting and what people can relate to. And so I found that feedback. Interesting. Now I kind of going into an event I kind of have to go out of my way to room to establish for people Oh, yeah, and this is why I’m up here. But it’s not as interesting for me to talk about that kind of thing.
Sure, I can tell that you love and are eager always to kind of get into the lesson get into the story. And I’m curious, you mentioned that your mom had an apple two, was it the apple to see
if that one was before the apple two even Yes, because I remember we got the one and then upgraded.
I remember I remember the upgrade to the E as well. My mom was a teacher. Was your mom, a teacher as well?
No, she’s a landscape architect. But funnily enough, she almost majored in computer science at UC Berkeley in 1969. And she always looks back she’s like I could have been enriched by them. Like right in the heart of the valley. But she pivoted to history and landscape architecture.
Okay. I wasn’t sure because we always had our apple because apples were in the schools that my mom worked at, which is the only reason we had a computer at home. Was all teachers had an apple two’s at the time was to see, you know, we played Number Munchers and word munchers in Oregon Trail.
Oh my gosh, that’s so fun. I know. And I used to make newsletters on the the typing software I forget. But I just all I remember is a lot of stars, and weird symbols. And that’s how you would divide the page up and making two columns was a really big deal. Anyway, so fun. I’ve loved nerding out on all this stuff.
Totally, totally well. And I’m curious to know how that sort of prepared you for some of your early careers. I know even before you, Google, you were working at a startup, right?
Yep, I took a leave of absence. I was at UCLA and one of my professors was going to join this online political polling startup. And it happened to be in Palo Alto, which was where my mom lived at the time and where I went to middle school and high school. So kind of on a leap of faith, I took a leave of absence from school, went home, moved home to Palo Alto and started work as the first employee at the startup as it later grew to 30 employees and got acquired. But it was such a great experience. Because as the first employee, I was the office manager, marketing assistant and webmaster and they kind of would just throw anything and everything at me that was entry level. Oh, I really love learning from experience and hands on. And also partly, I thought, I think they expected that I was just going to file papers. But the more that I took on and proved myself and taught myself new things, the more responsibility they gave. So it was really good training ground. And one of one of my many tasks was managing our Google AdWords accounts. So I was I developed a relationship with our customer service rep at Google. And when I hit a plateau at the startup after about two years there, and I later went back to graduate with my class at UCLA and everything, so I finished school. But when it came time to move, you know, it wasn’t I loved at the startup, I had stock in it. I wasn’t going to leave for nothing. But I thought Google, Google’s worth the jump. So I reached out to our rep and ended up moving over to Google to become an AdWords product trainer. So it was it was my experience as a client that helped me get that job on the training team.
Wow, that’s amazing. And what year was that, that you moved over to Google?
What a time it’d be at Google. What was that? Like?
It was great. It was amazing and crazy. I was there as a company grew from 6000 to 36,000 people. And because I was in a training function. I met a lot of those new hires. I was training, I trained over 1000 people in my first year and a half at the company. And so I got to know a ton of people. I still when I go back to Google, I’m still working with Google today, just from the outside as a consultant and still I’ll be at a training now and someone will say you trained me 10 years ago on my first day at the company. So it was really rewarding and wild. I mean the best business school to be at the heart of Silicon Valley, the heart out of one of the most innovative companies, and then watch even the infrastructure, how do you scale to the by the time I left 36,000, now 60,000. But it really taught me how to be efficient, how to communicate, how to create things with global scale in mind. And I never thought I was cut out to be an entrepreneur, I really didn’t. But once I left, I realized how many skills I had acquired from working there that served me now today.
And I want to make sure we talk about scale. But I’m curious to know, what were some of those soft skills that you learned, as you trained 1000 people at Google that you use now today, with the work that you do as a consultant, and career and business strategist?
Well, on a physical level, I actually used to get hives, when I would speak in front of a room. Even in college, I would get nervous in a, I forget what they call the breakout classes. But where’s the TA unlike 12 students, I would get nervous just to say my name to go around the room and say my name. And yet at the same time, I knew I wanted to be an author and a speaker someday. So having this training job at Google, I kind of took it on purpose, to inoculate myself against this fear of public speaking because I knew it was something I wanted to get better at. So being in front of the room every single day, and troubleshooting tech problems and keeping people awake and entertained and learning was really good practice to the point where when I gave my very first public speech, it was at TEDx CMU, I was the first speaker of the day, 500 people in the room 3000 streaming, and slides started going haywire. And I think
I watched that one. Is that one on YouTube?
Yeah. I would say we could link to it in the show notes. But oh, God, it was so long ago. But like I could have panicked and just stopped altogether. But because I had been through the trenches of already being in front of a room every day, I stuck it out. And it wasn’t perfect. It’s definitely awkward. But I finished it, and I gave the speech and you crushed
it, you cry. First public speak that was that was that’s pretty amazing and very impressive. public speech?
Well, I have to share too, one of my favorite quotes is from a book called Confessions of a public speaker. And this has helped me ever since he says, anytime you’re an animal standing alone on an open plane, with no weapons, and nowhere to hide, and dozens, if not hundreds, or 1000s of eyeballs staring at you. Evolutionarily speaking, you’re about to die. So if any of you listening tend to get nervous, when you’re giving a big presentation or public speaking, it’s normal. It’s our body’s evolutionary response to fear from being an animal standing alone on an open plane, with all these people looking at you. So once I learned that, I started to get into the physiology of calming the body, yoga, breathing, clenching an opening, closing your fists. That’s why some speakers pace before they get on stage. Some make the mistake of pacing well, on stage, that’s less desirable. But I’m just you just need tricks to get the adrenaline out of your body. So that alone was a great soft skill that I learned in my time at Google,
I’ve definitely made the pacing mistake, and then watch myself in video later and was like, I look like I was lying at the zoo, just like, Okay, seeing the bars there. Try not to do that again, talk to me more about some of these physiology tricks, because I’ve heard a few of them, you know, some of the things like focusing on breathing, maybe you could talk me through a breathing exercise that you do before you do one of your talks.
Well, one I do, it’s called controlled breathing. And the original name for it is pranayama. But you can do so counting to three on the inhale or five on the inhale. And then five on the exhale, really slows your breath down. So it’s just like inhale, you know, 12345, hold, exhale, 54321 hole that slow. And sometimes when I’m waiting for the person to introduce me, I’m doing that. And if any of you have taken a yoga class, they call it Ojai breathing, where you can start to the Goddess muscles at the back of your throat. And you make the sound of the ocean with your breath and your breathing and just through your nose, that really filters the breath and calms the system. But another breathing technique is you take an inhale, and everyone listening now can do this, you take an inhale and just give a sign. Like that kind of a breath says I’m relaxed, I’m not being chased. There are no predators, it activates your parasympathetic nervous system. So you can even do one more just to really feel the effects of a deep inhale. Ah, and just shake out your hands and your arms. And so that, you know if you’re being chased by a lion, as you mentioned, it’s not that kind of breathing. So it’s good to notice when everything gets tight when you construct the muscles in your face. But let’s say Do you still have adrenaline and as I often do, and it can manifest as a shaky voice, shaky hands, even shaky Leg Syndrome is, and this one I always get laughs I was the Speaker coach for TEDx Bushwick. And one of the things that I told the speakers is, the biggest muscle in your body is your. So when you’re on stage, if you get really nervous, you can clench your butt cheeks, and no one will know no one will see them you’re not pacing, you’re not doing yoga breathing while you’ve got the mic in your hand. And so at the TEDx run through, then the day of the event, everyone would come up to me like Jenny, clenching my butt. Think it worked. So you may laugh now, but try it sometime when you’re nervous. And the bottom line, the goal is you’ve got to give that adrenaline something to do. And then the other thing is, a lot of people make that fear magnified by taking it personally. So oh, I’m doing it again. I’m nervous, oh, my God, they’re gonna notice I’m freaking out. And I this year, I spoke six times in front of 1000 people. And I’ve never done that before. I’ve never spoken to a room that big, it’s pretty overwhelming to look out and see 1000 people, and that’s 2000 eyeballs now staring person on the stage. And so I would notice myself getting nervous, and just keep going, and I it wasn’t a problem. It wasn’t like, oh my god, I’m gonna botch this, I’m gonna ruin it. I can’t believe I’m nervous right now, you are gonna get nervous expect it. And therefore you won’t magnify it. When you’re in the moment, you’ll just accept it and keep moving. And then then you’re not producing extra adrenaline on top of the initial adrenaline.
That makes a lot of sense. And I want to get back to yoga. Because I discovered yoga in 2015, I say discovered, I knew of that of its existence. But I actually finally tried it in 2015. And that has been a total game changer for me. But I wanted to share it the breathing side of things is something that our team has started to do together now, where we all do the pranayama breathing. So there’s actually an app on iTunes, have you heard of this, Jenny?
I don’t know, what’s it called
i It’s literally called pranayama. Oh, so you can download the app. And it has different breathing patterns that you can do. So one, if you want to get like more excited. So say we’re about to go to a networking event together, we might do that breathing pattern together before we go to that event. And we don’t do it for a long period of time, or like, we try not to be too weird about it, right. But but there’s also sort of the midweek, you’re starting to realize you’re not going to get the whole to do list done during the week. It’s like, Let’s get together and do that similar that same breathing pattern you described, let’s just all get back to calm baseline again, to where we can just approach and everyone be in sync again, and, and bring sort of those cortisol levels down so that we can approach our work from a creative mindset. And that’s, that’s been a huge, huge help. And I would recommend to our listeners to start by using your exercise that you recommend here. And then, you know, if they’re open to taking a leap of faith with their team, they’re more forward thinking team members anyway. Maybe try the breathing exercise as a group.
That’s awesome. That’s so cool. There’s an app for it.
Yeah, it’s awesome. It’s awesome. It’s my go to now if I start to feel overwhelmed, you know, I saw on your bio, you mentioned you’ve always got some sort of soundtrack going in your headphones, if you’re walking around in New York, my go to now is to have that pranayama app just to kind of get myself into this sort of more meditative state because I used to always listen to podcasts or music or audiobooks. But at a certain point, I found that for me, I was just always filling my time with content, as opposed to allowing myself to just be present, and be with myself and be with my thoughts.
Yeah, totally. Especially if you’re a creative person or an entrepreneurial person, it’s so easy to fill our minds with other people’s ideas. And I just bought a book called How to be bored. The School of Life, put it out as a small little booklet, really. And because I agree, I think it’s so important to take the time that we have to breathe and slow down and silence can be so beautiful, and have be able to hear ourselves think or not think if the goal is to slow your mind down. But either way, I noticed the same thing. I haven’t listened to a podcast even though I love doing them and being a guest on them. I really have taken a break from listening because I’m just appreciating more quiet right now.
I love that. That makes a lot of sense. Um, I wonder Is yoga part of that intent for you?
I’ve been doing yoga almost 15 years now. So yoga is just a staple of my sanity. And and it’s definitely serves a function I you know, I meditate every day. I would say meditation is more directly related to creating that space and silence and it. So when people will sometimes say to me, oh, yeah, I don’t meditate, but I do yoga or but I go walking, but I run, but I fill in the blank, those things are all amazing. And they’re still different from meditation, which is sitting still with your eyes closed for five minutes or more I do 25 At the moment, but I’ve done 35 In the past, some days, if I only have five, I’ll do five. Because meditation is really where I find myself able to slow down. And a lot of people may might feel, Oh, I don’t know how to meditate, or I’m doing it wrong. There’s no such thing. Just think of it as stillness. Just sit in stillness with your eyes closed and do that slow breathing that we talked about. And that alone can help calm but I kind of use the metaphor of a beehive in our mind, like this is just bees as thoughts buzzing all around. And if you can drop down below the mind into, let’s say, your heart center, deeper into your body. That’s where things start to quiet down. And, you know, you can I am writing haikus lately. One of them starts as melt, soften, release your grip. So just in that stillness, can you soften Can you mouth can you release your grip on the day on stresses, you know, another breathing exercise is called tonglen. And it’s you breathe in on the inhale any stress or tension or fear. And on the exhale, you picture yourself releasing it, or breathing out, you know, as you breathe out all the toxins all the stress and tension, or you breathe in here, breathe out love and just doing this exercise. It’s almost sometimes I picture myself as a tree, photosynthesizing the day so why breathe in the day and things that are on my mind, and by the time breathing it out and transforming it and creating oxygen from whatever toxin have arisen.
I really liked that imagery of photosynthesis. I don’t know if I’ve said that word since junior high, but I really liked I really liked the imagery of it, I’m gonna have to try that I’m one of those people that I you know, tried to get into meditation, you know, probably back in in 2012, or 13 or so, couldn’t really stick to a habit. And I think it took something more physical like yoga, to get me to a point where I could let go, and now I find I can do this it still thing. But it’s only after, you know, having done yoga for the year plus, that I have that now I can actually be alone with my thoughts. And then allow those thoughts even to drift away and get to that sort of meditative state.
Totally. And I love that you’re willing to get into yoga too, because I think at first with something like yoga, it’s easy to feel inflexible, or a little bored or restless. But ultimately, it is such a good lengthening and strengthening for your body. It’s such good mind body spirit integration. It just serves a really nice function that can complement any other aspect of a person’s workout or kind of active activities.
It was actually a another podcaster Chris Ducker who finally convinced me to do it. I was visiting him in the Philippines actually, couple years ago. Yeah, I mean, he’s living the life out there for sure what he is reframed for me that got me to try it was the reason I could play basketball as late in life as I did and do is because I discovered yoga, and I was already beginning to feel some of the aches and pains of I play basketball at time, right? Like I’m an Indiana Hoosier, right? So it’s in my DNA. And I’m six, four. So that doesn’t hurt to. But what does hurt is playing basketball in the post, you know, a couple days out of the week, and not doing any sort of stretching or physical therapy or mobility work and adding that in, made that difference there. But I would I would say looking back now the mental effects of it are, are even even more than the physical effects.
That’s so awesome. I know. And the thing about whenever when I first started Pilates, I hated it. I did a Pilates class, I hated it. It was so hard. I couldn’t make it through a five minutes set at a time I couldn’t finish each of any of the five minutes sets. But the fact that I hated it so much made me keep going because I was like, I had no idea these muscles existed. So clearly, if it’s this hard for me, and I can barely even make it through five minutes at a time I must need this thing. And I think with yoga can be very similar. I mean, I love you describing how you play basketball. And I noticed such a difference. When I haven’t done yoga for two weeks, my whole body feels creaky. And just like it’s like the whole bottom, my whole body needs some WD 40. And yes, you could stretch at the gym for 10 minutes, but a yoga class will really ring you out like a sponge. And then therefore the mental relaxation comes with it. You know, so a lot of teachers have said shavasana, the corpse pose the very last pose of yoga that the entire press practice is for that one pose so that by the time you release everything and corpse pose died at the moment died the day, you’re you’re so relaxed, and only then would they sit for meditation after the body had been wrung out. Because no wonder of course, we can’t sit still, if we’re just caught up in our mind, and we’re so restless and haven’t yet gotten out that physical energy that we have.
That’s, that’s my move right there. I’m not good at all the yoga poses, but I’m really good at corpse pose.
Yet the best one, I wonder if
sort of this sort of like letting go mentality, if you feel like that really sort of powers the way you approach your career and everything that you’ve done as a speaker and an author and as a strategist, or if you see it as almost you do these these sort of like letting go mental exercise so that when you are in the mode of career mode, Jenny Blake, the author, Jenny Blake, the public speaker, that you can just be super focused and super engaged? Do you see it as almost a balance of the two? Or is it more integrated than maybe it appears at the surface?
Yeah, I mean, all of the above. It’s very, everything supports everything else. And I find with meditation, I’m more strategic and clear and focused. So while part of it is about letting go and unwinding or relaxing, a huge part of it is also being very strategic, about how I spend my time and being able to completely hear my intuition so much that I really take targeted focused action. And I don’t waste time and energy running around like a crazy person that if I can just get centered answers will come to me about challenges or strategy, even launches. And even writing the book, I really kind of CO created that through meditating and imagining my book and imagining it connecting with people, and what did it need? And what’s going to really reach people every day while I worked on it. And then, then a huge part of, you know, people sometimes ask, how do you define success? Or how do you become successful like you want, Success to me is enjoying every day, that if I’m running my own business, and I’m miserable, and I’m running myself to the ground, and I’m burnt out, and all of these things, what’s the point? So it’s very important to me to on a day to day basis, take care of my mind, my body, my spirit, my business, they’re all equally important. And I don’t, I hate the phrases like, Oh, I’ll sleep when I’m dead. You know, like, kind of common among, like, maybe it’s just, I think it’s a misconception among the only way to be an entrepreneurial Ninja is you sleep when you’re dead, that’s just not going to work. For me, my body is too sensitive, I will get sick right away if I if I’m getting too little sleep or not taking care of myself. So a lot of these practices are to really treat my body like a well oiled machine. So it can support everything I want to do in my business. And I learned that when I first left Google and started running my own business, I really realized, you know, I’m my own, my main employee, and especially I’m a solo solo printer, I work for myself, I have a few you know, VA and an assistant who are not working in with me directly or full time they’re in, they live in other locations. But But essentially, if I’m sleep deprived or hungover or have an exercise, or I’m frustrated or impatient, my business is operating at 50%. So I really treat my body is my business I am my, my, you know, my body is just as important to earning a living as whatever activities I’m doing on my to do with
Well, I find it interesting that you grew up in San Francisco, which is, you know, become Silicon Valley, the Silicon Valley that it is and is all about, you know, thinking big and growth and making a massive impact on the world with technology. But you currently reside in New York City, the city that never sleeps at and yet you are sort of have the mindset that you know, it’s not as I’ll sleep when I’m dead. It’s I want to enjoy this journey as I go. Do you find yourself at odds at times with sort of the culture and vibe of New York?
I the reason I love it is because I may be quiet and have my own little sanctuary in my studio apartment during the day. But I love being able to leave the house and feel so invigorated. Every day is an adventure, the serendipity of being here, the the type of people that New York City attracts, I love it, I thrive on it. So I just find a way to create my own container for living here where I really don’t feel burned out because of the city people have asked, isn’t it overwhelming, but I kind of I want this level of energy and chaos, and serendipity. That’s what really brings me alive. So I just make sure to have the personnel practices that support it.
That’s cool. That’s cool. It’s like you know that you want it but Only when you want it, it’s, it’s cool. You’ve kind of designed the sanctuary, you know, in New York, but then you can walk out the door and you’re in the energy and getting that hit of probably adrenaline.
Yeah, and it’s so different when people come through, and there’s this visiting. So kind of tourist mode. And even if it’s not tourist mode, I used to come here for a week at a time, when I was working at Google, my manager was based in New York. But if you’re only coming in for a week, those trips are so packed, you’re meeting with people, you’re going from meeting to meeting, and then out to dinner. And then if you’re going out for the night, or having cocktails, having alcohol, and then it starts all over the next day. And then you want to get in some see some sights and touristy things. And oh, my gosh, of course, by the end of the week, like that, you’re absolutely dead. And you might have had the best week of your life, but you’re dead. And that’s what I think a lot of people say, Oh, I could never live here. But if you do live here, everyday isn’t like that. You can really find yoga classes, meditate in the park, go for a walk, you know, yes, sometimes things are crowded and a little crazy. But it’s not like you’re on that 100% On mode, the way that a person would be if they’re just coming through for a visit?
Sure. I imagine having that that sanctuary space, and that personal practice of giving your time to reflect and be with your thoughts and then be maybe even without your thoughts in a meditative state. It’s almost like the first couple of steps of sort of the plan, scan pilot methodology of the pivot method. Is that intentional? I mean, I love I love that you actually do the things you recommend in your book, first of all, but second of all, is that sort of what you mean. But in that sort of like planning and scanning phase, very
interesting. No one has ever connected those two phase method and just a way of living love the question, let me think about this. So in the pivot method, which is essentially a method to map what’s next. So if you find yourself at a pivot point, and you’re saying what’s next, I developed this four stage cycle that you can go through and even for pivoting a business or pivoting the strategy on a single project. So plant is about what’s already working, doubling down on that, what are your strengths? What are you most enjoying? And what does success look like? Where do you want to end up a year from now? So yeah, in the context of living and day to day life, 100%, like what personal practices are working? And then how do you want to feel and if it’s different from what you are experiencing? Now, you know, then the second stage scan is for people skills and projects that are compelling. So people who might you want to connect with that can also go for your local community or online community skills? How do you want to learn and grow in the coming year projects? What small experiments might you want to tackle? And that’s really the third stage pilot is about small experiments. So for example, when considering moving to New York, first, I would travel here for work, then my friend, Julie, and I rented out an apartment for one month. And that was our pilot to see, could we really hack it here? Is it different when you’re maybe we were just, you know, in love with it, because we were only here for five glamorous days at a time, what someone’s gonna be like, we love to the month so much that she and I moved together later, later that year. And I’ve been here ever since we would call New York or yellow brick road to happiness. So the pilot worked. So piloting is all about small experiments to help you test three E’s. Do I enjoy this new thing? Can I become an expert at it? And is there room to expand? Well, in the context of a living experiment, we enjoyed it. Yes. Can we become an expert? Can we like get get into the New York swing and make it we’re not 100%? Sure, but we damn well knew we wanted to try. And then is there room to expand? Could we see ourselves here longer than a month? And the answer was yes. So whether it’s where to travel, where to live, or what you want for your project, or your career or your business, you can repeat plants can pilot over and over until you get enough momentum, that the fourth stage launch is more clear. And you’ve reduced risk enough so that when you pull the trigger on the new direction, it’s a smoother transition.
I love that. And I must have missed the fourth stage of the book, because I didn’t have it in my notes. I always take notes when I read books. And it’s been a while since I’ve read yours. So I must not have gotten the first stage launch. The first three
are like 90% of it. Okay, I would say if we were going to at 20. The first three stages are the bulk and I almost always want to call it a three stage method because that’s where you really get the momentum going. And then just every now and then the launch is pulling the trigger like quitting your job folding the business, you know, shifting the business. So that’s kind of where launch comes in. So you’re not it’s it’s just as accurate. So really think of it as a three stage model.
Well, I think it’s interesting that your book, the pivot, or you know, the pivot method, your book pivot is very much focused on the process of planning. pivot and whether or not it’s the pivot to make, because in the startup and tech world, it’s sort of like, oh, it’s not working, just pivot. And it’s sort of this, like, we’re gonna do it really quick, and we’re gonna move fast, and we’re gonna move fast and break things because we like, quoting Mark Zuckerberg, and we’re gonna, we’re gonna do things, and we’re gonna make it the right choice, that was not the right choice, we’re just gonna pivot again. But what I hear you saying is 90% of the pivot should be in the planning of it, and planting scanning pilot, and if the pilot works, and you feel you know, 80% good about it, then maybe go and launch is that am I hearing that correctly?
Yeah. And that, you know, the plant and scan stages are about planning and piloting is about get out there at Google, we had a motto, the mantra, basically launch and iterate or be scrappy, do not wait until you have the perfect thing to launch or to try and monetize your business or, you know, if we wait until things are perfect, we’re never going to do anything at all. And that’s where we feel a sense of paralysis. And so piloting is about taking action, but small action, small steps, small experiments that did get things rolling. And so that’s, that’s what it’s about. It’s the planning, and then the experimenting, because none of us have the answers up front, especially not in an economy like we’re in. So that just take the pressure off to have to know and that’s what I felt I’d beat myself up for so long, because I didn’t know how to answer that. What’s next question? And really, when I started doubling down on what was working, and rolling that into new and different but related experiments, that’s when things started to take off. Again, I imagine
you have a lot of readers and people in the community, because I know certainly in the entrepreneurial community, we have this of people that get stuck in the planning stage. And I feel that resistance between them and actually launching a pilot or, or piloting or launching. And so they almost get into this perpetual, separate self perpetuating cycle of wanting to printer ship. Which means that they’re always in planning stage, and they’ve always got some amazing plan, because that’s all they’re spending their time doing. Can you talk to me about what you would consider like minimum viable planning, or what, what needs to go into planning before you have a viable pilot,
the most important part of planning is not the business plan, even like, the most intricate way things are gonna unfold. The part that most people skip, when it comes to planning is looking at what’s already working, and what their strengths are and what has worked in the past, what has gotten clients in the past or customers? What do people saying, putting your ear to the ground listening? What are your customers want? What are they actually signing up for? What are they struggling with? How can you be most helpful, that’s the planning that’s really important. And that people often skip because they’re so focused on these kind of sexy ideas that you would read about or, or how to how to grow something, or how to follow some new business template that someone’s written about online. But the real key is, once you know your strengths, and what’s really working, you can shift very naturally and very methodically, right from where you already are, instead of stretching too far outside of yourself, especially with too much planning, that’s not anchored in anything that you’re doing currently.
I imagine that’s when things can start to feel a little bit out of control, when nothing, nothing is anchored to what you currently do or currently do. Well,
exactly, yeah. That’s when they are out of control, or they’re just not working. There’s no attraction happening. And someone might feel stuck. And like, why isn’t, you know, why aren’t I getting any momentum here? And well, it’s most likely because it’s not well enough, connected to existing strength and relationships and experiences.
I like that a lot. That makes a ton of sense to me. And I think if people just had this framework of the plant, scan pilot and launch, people would be piloting a lot more frequently, and the launches would be a lot more meaningful and therefore have a much bigger impact. Absolutely. Have you had some success stories come out of the talks that you’ve given and the the work that you’ve done with the book and with your coaching that are some of your favorite transformations.
One of the biggest things is and for myself included, people who just say, I thought I was crazy, or oh, I’ve been pivoting my whole life. And I always thought there was something wrong with me. But now through this lens, they’re the pivot Pro. They’re the one that’s the most agile because they have been shifting dynamically at every turn. And for me, too, I remember feeling like what I was hitting my head against the wall every two years wondering what’s next. There was something wrong with me and I must be destined to be unhappy for the rest of my career. But actually, what I’ve discovered, especially since the book came out and talking to people is pivots are much more often a product of our success. You know, in the startup world, pivoting is kind of plan B, the initial strategy for the company is failing, and now you have to pivot to stay in business. But when it comes to our careers, and if you’re a solopreneur, entrepreneur, pivoting is often a product of success that you’ve outgrown some previous direction, or previous idea or career incarnation and you’re ready for something new. So while it is intimidating, it doesn’t have to be taken personally, that you’ve done anything wrong. And that alone frees us up to be much more creative and eliminate some of the fear of the unknown. And I think the other thing is just is recognizing that some amount of uncertainty is a good thing. Because that’s how we know we’re engaged. And we’re learning and growing. And in the book I call the people I wrote the book for high net growth individuals, that money is important, but it’s not everything. And ultimately, we’re asking how am I learning and growing and once those needs are being met, or simultaneously, and how am I making an impact. So growth and impact are two sides of a coin, that I call them impactors for short, that’s what we really care about. So of course, we’re gonna have some more uncertainty, because we wouldn’t be bored. Otherwise, if we knew exactly what we were doing, and what’s next, and how to get there, and how to monetize the shit out of our business or rent, you know, like, like, crush it overnight, we would be bored. So lucky is that we get to play this game of business and entrepreneurship and, and problem solve and troubleshoot and go through dips, and go through failures and successes and keep learning. I mean, that’s what Joseph Campbell calls the rapture of being alive.
I love that you just quoted Joseph Campbell. That’s awesome. And I love the high net growth individuals phrase as well. I’m curious to know if there’s one person in particular that helped you become a high net worth individual because Jenny, I would I would absolutely say that you’re you’re a high net growth individual that has achieved some amazing things. And I would venture to guess we have we’ve seen nothing yet compared to what, what’s what’s to come?
Thank you, Matt. Well, same to you. I really, I have to say I’ve had been fortunate to have many amazing mentors and friend tours and friends in my life, not to my family to loves learning. And so that’s always fortunate to have that always be part of the conversation. I would say authors, just books, the the availability of books where an author has poured years of their life, and you get this thing you get to just unpack all their wisdom for $15 or however much you’re gonna pay for their book. That’s magic. To me. It’s absolute magic. Some it’s completely bookworm my book, My apartment is overflowing with books here in New York. And I love it. I love always being able to. And I like following author, rabbit holes. So like so once I find an author I really like for example, lately, it’s been Byron Katie and a guy named Gary’s Lakoff, who Oprah read his book seat of the soul in 87. And it completely changed the game for her. Well, once I read one book, and I resonate so deeply with it, I’ll read everything the author has ever written. And so there are some authors like that, where I just go to town on their whole body of work. And in that way, they become a mentor from afar, and it’s fine. If I never get to meet that person, in person or talk to them live, I’ve already they’ve already changed my life in countless ways. And then now at the podcast, that is actually a small possibility that I could talk to them. So that’s that’s a Mind Blow beyond belief, but the books alone are what are what feed me their soul food, brain food, as a high net growth individual.
I think that’s pretty good philosophy and perspective to have. And I would highly recommend, as a reader, although I clearly didn’t take good enough notes on it. Please go read and pick up a copy of Jenny’s book pivot. Jenny, if people want to find out more about you, or your book, where should they go?
The best place is pivot method.com. And if you go to pivot method.com/toolkit, there’s a bunch of free resources and templates, and even a pivot ability index to see what kind of pivot or you are. And then I also have a private community called momentum for side hustlers and solopreneurs, where I do twice weekly q&a calls, and there’s just it’s just an awesome group. And if a team of six pivot coaches now, so if any of you listening really would love, one on one support, you can sign up for two session jumpstart, and that’s at pivot method.com/coaching.
Oh, so cool. So cool. I didn’t check that out yet. So I will be going to that, immediately following this interview. Thank you so much, Jenny, for taking the time to share your story, and share a little bit about pivoting and learning along the way.
Thank you so much, man. I loved all your questions. You get an A plus, because you didn’t just read the book, you also checked out all the latest, greatest stuff. So I really, really appreciate it. You’re great at what you do. And big thanks to everybody who’s here listening to
thanks much, Jenny. Hey, it’s your host, Matt Hunckler. Here again, that’s it for our hangout with Jenny Blake on powderkeg. But, as I mentioned before, in the last episode, the party does not have to stop there. Please make sure you give Jenny a follow on Twitter, at Jenny underscore Blake on Twitter, and check out her personal website, Jenny Blake dot m e, you can also check out her book website where she publishes a ton of helpful content and resources at pivot method.com. You can check out those websites and find all of those resources that Jenny mentioned in this episode. And of course, we’ve linked all of that up for you in the full show notes and transcript at our website powderkeg dot c. O, I just wanted to remind you real quick that powderkeg is presented by verge which is a network of local communities with global reach for tech entrepreneurs, investors, and top talent growing companies beyond Silicon Valley, we have a ton of free resources for starting and growing your business at verge hq.com. We also host several events every month around the country. So check us out and see where we’re at, I would love to link up with you in person, learn a little bit more about what you’re working on and how we can help. So again, that’s verge hq.com. And of course, you can always find me on Twitter and Instagram at Hunckler. That’s at hunc K L E R, I appreciate all of your feedback, all the conversation and dialogue there. Thank you so much for continuing to give great feedback, great ideas for future shows. And of course, let me know how I can help. I want to help you. I want to help your business. And I want to help make this podcast better and better. So that again, we’re helping more and more people. The more interviews we do, the more episodes we have. So thanks to everyone who has done that. And of course, thank you. Thank you. Thank you to everyone who has left us a review this past week and subscribed on iTunes. You can leave us your honest review by using this link powderkeg.co/itunes. Please give us a subscribe while you’re at it. And we’ll be forever indebted to you. Because it’s your reviews. It’s your subscriptions and your feedback that helps us get better and reach more people to build bigger and better businesses that really matter. Thank you so much for tuning in.