“Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen.”
– Brené Brown
By: Nicole Keeny
Jennifer Hacker lives her life in vulnerable spaces. As a life coach and grief specialist, Jennifer walks hand in hand with those who need to be seen—in their grief, in their challenges, in their darkest moments. Because if anyone knows the landscape of grief, has seen the darkness of it deeply, has felt its sharp edges with her fingers, it is Jennifer herself.
As the owner and founder of her own private coaching company and the founder of a nonprofit organization, Jennifer spends her time immersed in coaching individuals who are dealing with some of the toughest parts of their lives, not only because she cares deeply for her clients but also because she herself has been there. “I help people in grief heal and transform their lives after loss—to let go of their pain without letting go of their connection to their loved one. And I know a lot of people in grief kind of push back on that because they don’t think that’s possible. But I know from experience that it is,” Jennifer says.
Jennifer has not always worked in this arena. “I was a CEO and CFO of a construction company, so I basically ran the whole place except for the crew. While I worked for that company, that was when my son passed away in 2003,” she says. “Life was just totally different. There’s the before and there’s the after, and I had to go figure out how to live in the after.”
In the wake of losing her three-month-old son, Jennifer came face to face with a realization. “My business job was not going to satisfy me or my new passion or my new interests, so that’s what set me off on this path,” she says. She admits that her initial approach to her nonprofit and her business may have been a bit unconventional. “First, I actually started a nonprofit organization, which is totally backwards because you’d think the coaching would come first. But I was just so called to help women going through all of the most difficult things alone. So, I started a nonprofit organization because I was like, ‘I’m going to help these ladies. I just don’t know how.’ And then I figured out the how. I went to get my certification to be a life coach, and that was what made me go, ‘This is what I was born to do and now I know how,’” Jennifer says.
Positive Client Relationships — Near or Far
By: Julie Clark
Creating and maintaining client relationships is a must, not only for the success of your client but for your success as well. Client retention depends on connection. Your clients need to feel like they are your one and only, even if they aren’t. So, how exactly can you grow connections, benefit from brainstorming, and foster responsibility and commitment to a common goal from afar, especially in today’s post-pandemic workplace? Here are five tips for building positive client relationships, near or far.
- Get to know your clients. Just because you can’t sit down in their offices face-to-face does not mean you can’t make them feel special and important. Know their companies’ histories; study their products and services; dedicate time to learning their names, roles, and families. Only then will you be equipped to not only acknowledge but also help them celebrate business and personal milestones. Consider asking your clients and their teams to participate in a survey or team-building exercise or simply asking them questions when you have time.
- Schedule monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly video meetings. Instead of only using emails or phone calls, suggest your clients meet you face-to-face on Zoom, Google Meet, or FaceTime. Not only does this check the box for helping you forge a personal relationship, but it also feels more professional and shows your clients you are willing to carve out time, regularly, just for them.
Building Connections with Remote Clients
By: Meredith Flory
While a variety of factors have led businesses to be able to have both remote workers and remote clients, those relationships and teams still need to grow authentically and create connections that lead to long-term relationships. Whether you are providing a service or creating a product for your clients, there are some ways to use technology creatively and purposefully to make the miles separating you feel like much less.
Tailor communication to the client. Our ability to have remote clients is in part due to the amount of technology at our fingertips, but there are so many options, you need to play it smart in deciding which communication technologies work for you and your clients. If you use too many, it makes it easier for communication to be missed or misinterpreted. Find a video-calling, calendar, and shared document system that works for both you and your clients and stick to those resources. If you want to change what you are using, consider testing with a particular project or client who is open to new things before asking all your clients and employees to make the switch.
Be sure to maintain notes on your clients’ communication styles. Due to a myriad of factors such as age, type of project, comfort with technology, and needed accommodations, you may need to adjust. How you are handling internal communication channels matter as well. If multiple staff members are working with a client, they need to have a plan with each other so that they do not contradict one another or contact the client about the same issues simultaneously.
The shift to more remote work has necessitated a “tweaked” philosophy in how we approach our client relationships. It’s not always as easy as a face-to-face meeting these days to cultivate healthy professional relationships. While tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet have given us a semblance of the old in-person meetings, the challenges of building remote partnerships go beyond virtual meeting needs.
For five quick tips on how to successfully transition to remote client relationships, check out this article from Forbes. The tips might seem basic in the extreme, but building a solid foundation will serve you well as you navigate those remote waters.
By: Julie Kirchner
Talking about building connections is a love of Jonnah Buchanan’s. “Truly, all learning begins with connection,” she enlightens. Jonnah is the executive director of Launch Learning Preschool, an innovative new nonprofit in Merritt Island, Florida, offering a unique whole-family education framework designed to strengthen families in raising happy, healthy humans.
“We know from brain research that connections on the outside—like when we physically connect with someone face-to-face—literally build the connections in the wiring of our brains,” explains Jonnah.
Brain-based research is at the heart of Launch Learning’s program design, including their monthly Parent Connect education classes for parents. “That’s why, from the beginning of the day, we get down eye-to-eye with our kids, and we are intentionally doing fun hand games and greetings with them . . . it’s because that first immediate connection with them actually helps strengthen the neural connections within their brains,” Jonnah says. These kinds of connections form a strong foundation for early childhood brain development and help build cooperation, impulse control, and other social-emotional skills like empathy.
For Florida’s Space Coast (home to the Kennedy Space Center), it’s probably totally appropriate for a preschool to sound like rocket science. This preschool has some serious local roots, too. Launch Learning is a legacy program modeled after the Eastern Florida State College (EFSC) Lab School founded in 1967, a program that served more than 7,500 children and 14,000 parents over 55 years. During the pandemic, the EFSC Lab School program closed, and a new opportunity came to light.
Time flies when you are having fun. And from celebrating Powerhouse’s 10th anniversary, to sharing the goodness, to getting prepped for the holidays, we have been having a blast! The celebration continues as this month we shine a spotlight on the amazing Amanda Thurn.
Amanda has the distinction of being one of the first Powerhouse clients to also become a Powerhouse freelancer. Amanda worked for two of our nonprofit clients, The Children’s Hunger Project and the Space Coast Basket Brigade, and it was, as they say, meant to be when six months ago Amanda brought her talents to Powerhouse itself. (more…)