Great Escape Podcast episode 41 - Overcoming abandonment and injury

great escape Oct 26, 2019

Jill was abandoned at birth and suffered a head injury at a very early age. She's overcome these things to build her own business, help lead a church and be a mom. Where you've come from is much less important than where you want to go.


- Well, as I shared with you earlier, life for me was not an easy start, like you mentioned. I, within seconds of my birth, I was abandoned. My mother placed me for adoption and while in foster care, I was about two months old and I had, I was either dropped on my head, or thrown against a wall, it's a little vague on what happened, but I ended up with a blood clot on my brain, and spent the next couple of months in a hospital while they drained that. And then there was a lot of uncertainty as to what the longterm effects would be, so I became what they termed unadoptable. But fortunately, there was a family that was also deemed unmatchable, and, and they matched us together. And so I lived with them, they were my parents, I mean, they're my family. I was nine months old when I went to live with them. But my mom was very, very sick, and so I spent most of my life with her in the hospital, more than out of the hospital. And then when I was 15 years old, she died. Those are hard ways for people to start life. Most kids don't have that much trauma in their early childhood, and that was the foundation of what could've really defined who I am, and does, to some degree it does define who I am, but that was my start.

- And I think in a lot of ways, when we think of children who have been adopted and have parents die when they were small, we generally think of negative outcomes. We generally think that these kids don't make...

- Yeah.

- And that's a stereotype, it's in no way true. In fact, the two women that I know who were adopted at an early age are nothing like that, one being my wife.

- Oh, nice.

- So, for you, your mom's died, you're 15 years old, how did school, and then, did you go to university? Or what happened after that?

- Well, school I kinda decided to put on the back burner. I told my kids and I've joked with friends, so I was a sophomore when my mom died. And I just kind of tumbled through school that year. And you know, at the same time, when she died, I really lost my dad at the same time. And I didn't understand it, I was 15 years old, what did I know about life? But they had been junior high sweethearts and married for 28 years. And so, I didn't understand how deeply he was grieving. And I got angry. I was hurt, I was mad at him. And so, my junior year, I'm like, school's stupid. I don't need this. I was blessed enough with brains that if I showed up for the tests, I would be okay, but on the second to last day of my junior year, I was sittin' out on my car hangin' out with my friends when I should have been in class, and my dad drove by. Ooh, I got in trouble. But really, just with all that was going on and trying to figure out what was life suppose to be, and kind of even figure out what was up, you know, where was up from there, I did not go to school right after high school. I met a guy, moved to Hawaii, thought, oh I'm gonna live this great life, that did not turn out well. And just kind of stumbled for a long time. And as far as education goes, when I was in my 30s, I realized I want to be in school. I love to learn and I wanted to be doing things in my life to help people. And so I started, and over the years, I did all my general education at local community colleges where I lived. And that took probably about eight years. And then, over the course of that it was like, oh, well I'm gonna major in this, or no, I'm gonna major in business, or no, I'm gonna major in music. I still didn't even know what I was doing. And then finally, in my 40s, I'm like, ugh, I love helping people, the best way to do that is to get a psychology degree. So I finished my bachelor's and then went on to complete my master's, which I completed that last year.

- Well done!

- Yeah. Thank you.

- And was that also in psychology, the master's?

- Yes, yes.

- Okay.

- It's an emphasis in industrial organizational psychology. Which means I'm all about the psychology of businesses.

- Okay, that's a whole different conversation which we will have another time. But that's a fascinating topic. And through this, you alluded to that relationship that took you to Hawaii, not necessarily having been the greatest choice. And life has just moved along doing this, doing that, a bit like a leaf on the wind, sort of whichever direction the wind's blowing. At what point did you begin to feel, actually I need to have some kind of focus, some kind of direction for myself?

- Well, the outcome of that relationship in Hawaii was that I found myself pregnant, and I am a total advocate of adoption. Firm, firm believer in it, but I knew that I wanted to keep this baby for myself. And so, I did, and having my oldest daughter, she, she made me have to be focused. I had somebody else that I was responsible for. I had to kinda be a little bit more grounded. And so, that got that path started. And then, over probably the next four years, I still fluttered about quite a lot, and then there was for me, there was a spiritually defining moment. And that was what got me to a place where I was like, okay, here I am and here I'm going.

- Okay, and for you, I don't necessarily want to dig too far into that, but was that within a particular faith, or just in a generic spiritual defining sense?

- Yeah, no, and I get it. I am a Christian, and I'm actually an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God.

- Okay, obviously we've got listeners from all sorts of different faiths.

- Absolutely, yep.

- And that's fine. But it helps to understand where you're coming from. And so, through that, becoming a parent, somebody has to be the adult and it's not gonna be the baby. You felt that that kind of began to help you to get focused and work out what was needing to happen.

- Yeah, yep, and--

- And you said, sorry, go on.

- Oh no, go ahead.

- You said your eldest daughter, so that implies there have been more.

- Yes. Yeah, when she was three, I met my husband and we've been married for 26 years, and we have two other kids.

- Okay, so the appropriate joke I make there is you don't look old enough, but... So she has joined that family and become part of...

- Oh yeah.

- Part of that family.

- She does not know I call him the sperm donor. She doesn't know who he is. She knows the story and she knows why I made the decisions that I made. And then my husband adopted her. He is, he is her dad, so.

- Yeah, that's really wonderful. And so now, you've got a life where you've got this, you've got your degree, you've got your master's, you've become more of an expert in that subject that you've chosen. So from being all over the place, things have begun to narrow down. How do you feel that that's driving your life, both in terms of the things, and an ordained minister, so you've got a number of strands there. Where, how is this all joining together in terms of what you're doing on a day-to-day basis, both for yourself, just for the fun, or for work and income, or how does that all blend together?

- Yeah, that's a great question. To be honest, I'm still super flighty. I don't like, I don't like routine. I like a wide variety, so for 17 years, I was a full-time pastor and that's what I did. And the last church that I was a part of was a very difficult place to be. And I found that in 2016, they were going through some financial problems and I said, look, I'm gonna resign, I'll be a volunteer and that caused the shift in me to have to go out still and get a job, 'cause I still needed money. And that's really what has birthed where I'm at today. Going out and working with companies and finding out what... I was helping out with human resources and again, just helping people, which is really, at the core of everything I do, that's there. So, where it's brought me to today is that I have this ability to be able to help companies and to help people, which are really the heart of companies. And that's where I like to focus, is if you help the people, the company improving is just gonna be a natural byproduct. And so today, where I'm at today, is that about a year ago, I was working for a company. I was helping them with their human resources and the president of the company had said, "I am being so selfish by keeping you. "You need to be doing this on your own "and helping more companies. "I'm gonna be your first client, "but you need to go out and do your own thing." And that's where that came from. And so, that's what I get to do today, is I get to help companies with overcoming obstacles that are keeping them from getting to that next level. And most of that again, is just people stuff.

- Yeah, it's all people stuff 'cause companies are just people, as you said. Now, one of the really interesting things about that observation that that employer made is that you should be doing this for more businesses, but that implies you need to go find more businesses in order to build that. So, okay, being a pastor is in some ways, a somewhat salesy job because you're trying to bring people into the church, either fresh people or poaching them from the church down the road. So, even though you might not have realized it, you'd got some sales experience. How do you find now, the proportion of time you're spending building the business and doing the business?

- Sure, it's disproportionate. It's certainly not what I wish it would be, but being the one and only person in the company, then you know, it is what it is, right? So as far as the marketing goes, I really had to learn a lot of how to do that for my business. Yeah, in the church it was about relationship, which in business, it's about relationship too.

- It still is.

- Yeah. But finding that and feeling like I have to get them to a decision point faster than maybe I did as a pastor. So, one of my, probably one of my biggest tools is just like this, being on podcasts and it gives me an opportunity to let people have a glimpse into who I am and A, whether we're gonna be a good match, and B, how I work, and then also how I can help them, that I truly do wanna help people.

- And that's the basis of any selling relationship, is relationship, it's people buy from people they trust. So it's always, always about that. And when you, so you took this piece of advice. He said you should be running your own business, and for some reason you thought, yes I should.

- Yeah.

- Why?

- I have a super entrepreneurial spirit. My dad has always been an entrepreneur, opening businesses and successfully running them, and so, I love that. And I also tend to get bored pretty easy, going back with the flighty stuff. And so, being able to come in, help a company, get them on track, get them moving forward and then move onto the next one, or having two or three of them that I'm working on at the same time. It's good for me 'cause it keeps me active and it keeps my brain active. And then, I do believe that I can make a bigger impact and that what companies are doing, companies are so important, and I love, like the clients that I work with, they're making a difference in people's lives. It doesn't matter what kind of company you are, as long as you're doing what you've set out to say that your vision is and your goals are, you're impacting somebody's life. And who doesn't wanna be a part of helping companies do that better, make the world a better place?

- Yeah, and that's a fantastic example, I think, of what some people would sort of think of as the ADD element, there's an awful lot of entrepreneurs do get bored quickly, and so, actually being self-employed or being part of a small team with lots of different projects coming and going is actually, suits who we are.

- Yeah, absolutely. Part of that is fed to the fact that really, I have three jobs right now. Until I get the business to where it can be fully supportive, I'm the executive director of an nonprofit that feeds people in the community, and then I have my business, and then my husband and I are starting a church in our town, and so I help him with that, so, yeah.

- Okay, which is a...

- I have to be busy.

- Yeah, and that's a massive venture in itself.

- Yeah.

- Yeah. And it has the whole people dynamic thing going on all the way through it.

- Yes.

- Yeah. It's that whole, you know, if you find a perfect church, don't join it because you'll spoil it immediately.

- So true.

- And in terms of your future goals, obviously, if you and your husband are starting a church, that's gonna be part of your life for a very long period of time, I suspect.

- Yeah.

- You're also launching this business, and it isn't quite paying the bills yet.

- Right.

- Do you see it always being just you, or do you think it might grow to either involve support staff or even if they're just sort of virtual assistants rather than somebody physically sitting in the office, or other consultants doing other projects, but with you and under your brand?

- Yeah, that's a great question. I would love to see this grow. I know that for me, the first step that I'm gonna add is a marketer, so that I can be about doing the business, 'cause that's what I love to do. But it can definitely grow. I know that there are, if you Google business consultants, there are 50 bazillion of 'em, but there's only one of me and there's only one who's doing how I'm doing things and what I'm doing, and I think that that's teachable. I think it's scalable, and so I'd love to see the company, I'd love to see LINK grow to having a bigger impact and to include a bigger team.

- Yeah, and that brings with it its own complications, making sure payroll runs.

- Yes. Yeah, then at that point, I have to turn everything back inward and all the stuff that I teach other businesses, I have to make sure that I'm doing.

- Yeah, absolutely, or hiring somebody else to do.

- Yes.

- But that also then increases cost, and that has an impact on profitability.

- Mm hmm, it does, but I'm really good with budgets, and I'm really good at looking at what are expenses, what is necessary. I tell companies, I don't have a lot of brand loyalty, I will shop things like insurance. I'll shop insurance every couple of years just to make sure that I'm always getting with the best deal and the best bang for my buck. Typically, I end up staying with the company that I'm with, 'cause a lot of times, we've built a relationship, and because of that they're like, "Hey, we don't wanna lose that, "we'll match it," or whatever, but I know how to look at stuff and say, we don't need that expense, we do need that expense.

- Yeah, yeah, and do you have a plan or is it being flown kind of as you feel?

- Well, right now it's a little bit as I feel.

- There's no shame in that.

- Yeah, good. But as it grows, and as it looks like that I need to be building and adding more staff, then just sit down, I mean, I have a very lean business plan. But as far as once we grow, then it really needs to be something that I sit down and hardcore write out and all of that good stuff.

- Yeah, absolutely, although having said that, you can, the traditional business plan, the five-year, 10-year time horizon, you know, what's gonna happen next year, so it's a work of fiction when it's that far out.

- It really is. I work with a company and one of the things that their president did was, rather than doing a five-year, 10-year plan, he, and I thought this was brilliant, he made it to where he said, "Okay, when we're "a $500,000 a year company, this is what we need. "When we're a million dollar a year, "when we're two and a half million, five million." And so that's how his plan is, he has target dates. But it's really about, when we look like this, this is what we need, and that makes it very fluid. It doesn't say... It doesn't make it become irrelevant because of time.

- And that little piece of wisdom from that chief executive is something actually, that I think I alluded to in a previous podcast about, it's not so much what I want the future to look like in terms of detail, but it's what I want the future to feel like.

- Yes, yeah, oh that's so good. And that, you're so right, it's what do I, when I... And I help clients with this, one of the questions I ask them is, we're a year from now and you're living the dream, what does that look like? And it does, it includes what are you feeling? What are you experiencing? What do you anticipate that to be like? And there is that sense of, what is it? Rather than defining it by hard data that is measurable, and you have to have that as a piece, but it really is a little bit more vague, I guess, in that it's about, well, you know, I'm waking up and I'm feeling relief, and I'm not stressed out, and I'm feeling like my company is successful, and I'm doing things that I love to be doing, and yeah, that's good.

- Yeah, absolutely. And my, I've got two staff sitting just behind me here, and they're both chuckling because we just, in the last year, grew our business to a quarter of a million dollars a year turnover that we never intended to start.

- Wow!

- So it was actually by accident. And now we're sort of thinking, what does the future look like on a business that we hadn't intended to start. But it is that, starts in the beginning of just let's do this and then the plan grows and turns into something more tangible.

- Yes, absolutely.

- Well Jill, that's been a really interesting conversation, and I'm sure would could carryon talking for hours. Well we certainly could, 'cause entrepreneurship is something that is in deep to both of our hearts, but that's for another time. So I hope you'll come back and be another guest on the show.

- Please!

- And we'll see where it goes. We'll put links to Jill's podcast and to her business, which is called LINK Consulting, in the show notes of the show and you can get ahold of her there.

- Awesome, you know, another thing too, if I could mention right?

- Do, carry on.

- That if your listeners want to get ahold of me, the best way they can do it, I'm sure they have their phone, they're either listening on their phone, or it's right next to 'em, and if they open up their text messaging app, and text the word link to 31996, that's text L-I-N-K to 31996 and what I wanna do for them, is I wanna give away a free next level strategy session.

- That's wonderful, I will definitely make sure that that's up, although that will only work in the U.S.A. So we'll have to find a different way for our non U.S. listeners to get hold of you. But hey, there are email, Instagram, Facebook, all of the other things, LinkedIn. We'll put all of those contact details in the show notes.

- Fabulous.

- People can get ahold of you. Thank you very much Jill, it's really generous.

- Yeah my pleasure, like I said, I love to help people and I know that I do a lot of it for free, but if somebody can get off the phone with me and be like, "Wow, I have a plan, I have some things that I can do "that are gonna make my life better," that's very rewarding for me.

- Thank you so much for listening to this episode of The Great Escape podcast. You can find other episodes at all the usual places on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify, or at the website And if you'd like to contact me to talk about any element of this episode or others I've covered, please go to and you can find all the ways of getting hold of me there. And if you're stuck in a situation and you can't find a way out, please go there, send me a message, and let's see how we can work together to get you unstuck and moving forward with your life again. Please do share this podcast with your friends and family, other people you think might appreciate it and comment on episodes, or send me a message, I'd love to keep the conversation going. ♪ Do that again ♪

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