Once in a while, you’ll run into a renaissance personality who’s been floating through life and loving it.
Jessica Abegg is one of those enviable characters.
She is the type of renaissance personality that loves to “collect experiences,” something that hits very close to home for me.
Jessica says that someone who knows her once told her that she’s on this earth to have experiences; that she doesn’t per se want to “be” a doctor, but wants to have the experience of being a doctor – for a while. Or of being a mom. Or a flight attendant. Or a writer. (And some of these roles she actually had or is about to have!)
Her story is so inspiring – I hope you get the same sense of what is possible that I got from speaking with her.
Despite the very wide variety of professional and personal pursuits, Jessica has clarity about her “life brand,” which is to be of service to others.
Her motto – which she saw hanging on the wall at a friend of her mom’s when she was little – is:
“May that which comes to me as seed go on as flower and that which come to me as flower go on as fruit.”
So what has Jessica been up to so far? (She’s only 33)
Well, she’s been a flight attendant, a janitor, she’s worked in corporate America in corporate communications, and she runs her own business in holistic wellness (massage therapy, nutrition, etc.). She recently obtained her MBA as well as a second master’s degree in international business. Her undergrad degree was in Spanish and theatre.
She’s studied in France and China and in her “younger years” has lived in Spain, the Netherlands (yay!), and Costa Rica.
Jessica just wrote a book on holistic entrepreneurship in which she explains what she learns from her adventure with her own business and why it’s not necessary to go get your MBA to run your own toko. She got hers for personal reasons and is saving the reader of her book the hassle of jumping through those MBA hoops.
Jessica jokes that she did things “the other way around” when compared to most holistic practitioners. They start their professional lives going to grad school first, doing the serious business stuff only to find out they don’t like it. Then they switch to the wellness industry and to operating their own business.
When growing up, Jessica was stimulated to explore all her different interests. She credits her mom for this as her mother is a renaissance personality herself; jumping on a last-minute flight to Paris, starting a business, different jobs…
Throughout her young life, Jessica was consistently met with appreciation of her unique personality. “You did all of this and you’re still so young!”
It wasn’t until a few years ago after moving to D.C. that she realized not everyone is charmed by her vagabond renaissance personality and lifestyle.
Jessica quickly learned to pick and choose when going to networking events or dinner parties. In D.C., where it’s all about careers and prestige, the big question is “what do you do?” She got quite a few puzzled looks when telling them she’s a holistic practitioner who also writes, and who was working in corporate communications.
Tip from Jessica: When you go to an event; decide what you want to get out of it. Are you there to promote your business (if so: which one?), to land a job in marketing, or to find folks who can help you with your book? Then tailor your message to these audiences. Also: consider your “audience” and figure out why they are there so you can make sure you’re talking about something that is relevant to them too!
I asked Jessica for her top 3 tips on how to integrate your many passions into your professional life. Here’s what she told me:
- Put it out there; there’s always someone who knows something/someone and is looking for something. Talk to people at parties, let them know what you’re looking for.Talking to other people gets them involved. It helps you clarify goals and bring them to fruition. It will provides you with resources that were unknown. It also tends to make you feel more accountable to your own goals AND give other people permission to pursue their own goals and dreams.
- Test out new ideas and fields. Something could sound fabulous but may not be a good fit for you. Volunteering and informational interviewing are key. Ask lots of questions. What do they like about it/what they don’t/what’s hard about it.
- Healthy fear is ok but don’t be scared to leave security or look bad. It’s easy to get stuck in fear; don’t over research for years and stay stuck that way. Get moving!
- Be creative: work with transferrable skills instead of going for another 4-year degree.
Ok, so she gave us 4 tips instead of 3…
And just when you think you formed a complete picture of this amazing woman, she surprises you again. She and her husband are both wedding officiants so they marry other couples!
And…Jessica is pregnant with her first child!
Congratulations Jessica – your child is up for a great ride with you as his or her mom!
Jessica’s web sites are www.sanctuarymassage.net and www.weddingofficiantsdc.com. Her book is entitled “Massaging Success: Tools for Creating a Thriving Holistic Career,” and will come out in January 2011.