88: How to Turn Failure Into Transformative Success, Nicole Jansen

by | Apr 18, 2022

Succession
Stories
Podcast

88: How to Turn Failure Into Transformative Success, Nicole Jansen

by | Apr 18, 2022

Nicole Jansen grew up in an entrepreneurial household and by her mid-twenties had helped build an 8-figure family business that spanned nearly a dozen countries. But at the height of their success, they lost it all. Nicole joins host Laurie Barkman to discuss how this experience fuels her mission today, working with business owners and visionary leaders to achieve success while also making a positive impact in the lives of others. She is the founder of Discover The Edge and Leaders of Transformation Podcast. Key takeaways: How can we become better, not bitter, when things don’t go our way. And why the most valuable thing you can pass to the next generation is integrity.

Listen in to learn more about:

  • Identifying business risk tripwires before it’s too late
  • Navigating misalignment 
  • Effect of tying personal identity to a business
  • Recovering from a downturn
  • Separating yourself from your accomplishments, accolades, adversity and more

Show Links:

About Succession Stories Podcast

Succession Stories is hosted by Laurie Barkman, the Business Transition Sherpa– guiding business owners through the process from “transition to transaction.”

Learn more at https://smalldotbig.com 

Book a 1:1 Advisory call at: www.meetlauriebarkman.com or lbarkman@smalldotbig.com

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Transcript

Laurie Barkman:

Nicole Jansen empowers business owners and visionary leaders to generate millions of dollars and do great things in business while also making a great positive impact in the lives of others. She is passionate about helping leaders shift their perspective and solve complex business and relational issues. She is the founder of Discover The Edge, a coaching and strategic advising firm, and she has a great podcast called the Leaders Of Transformation Podcast, reaching listeners in 140 countries. 

I invited Nicole onto the show because her story is a cautionary tale. Many times we can learn more from entrepreneurs where the ending isn’t so happy. I met Nicole on her podcast, Leaders of Transformation (definitely encourage you to check it out), and we clicked in on the topic of transition. Nicole shares the story of how her family grew and lost an 8-figure business, and having a resilient mindset. How do we become better, not bitter, when things don’t go our way. Enjoy this inspiring episode about turning failure into transformative success with Nicole Jansen.

Laurie Barkman:

Nicole Jansen, welcome to Succession Stories, this is going to be an interesting conversation because of your family business history, and all the lessons you’ve learned, because there’s been a lot of challenges, and I think that authenticity that you’re going to bring to our conversation is so important, so thank you in advance for that, but again, welcome.

Nicole Jansen:

Thanks for having me, Laurie. I appreciate it and I appreciate this also being a continuation of the conversation that we had on my podcast, and all the wonderful things that you shared, so yeah, it’s an honor to be here, and looking forward to a great conversation.

Laurie Barkman:

Yeah, I was honored to be on your show, Leaders of Transformation, and we had such a great conversation and we’re at opposite ends of the country, but I think we have found a mutual interest and purpose of helping business owners be successful. Why don’t we start there? Why don’t we talk about your family business history? Share a bit about your family business story.

Nicole Jansen:

Yeah, absolutely, so I know you’re in Pennsylvania, and I’m actually from Toronto, so not too far away from you there, originally, and now of course, down in Southern California, which I absolutely love, and I’m grateful for, but yeah, I grew up in Toronto, and my parents owned garage businesses, they owned an SO franchise back in the 70s and then sold that got a Sunoco franchise and my brother worked in, where he grew up, when he was young, of course, he was helping out with the odds and sods and so forth around and then eventually started working with my dad, and my mom did all the paperwork, so it was very much a family business, and the different iterations of that business, my brother got very involved in that.

I was not interested in getting dirty, like I love cars, and I love to drive nice cars, but that’s not my deal, to work on cars but my parents also, while they had that business, they also got involved in a direct sales business when they were, it was like 1979, and so I was seven years old, and I remember because my parents always taught about this principle of a home team, we work together, we we win together, we celebrate the rewards, the trappings of it, going on trips together, we did a lot of things together, it was really just my parents, and my brother and I, our family, their parents and so forth we’re in Europe, because they’re a first generation coming over and so when they started that business, I remember it was like two weeks in, my dad used to, they both work seven days a week in the garage business, and they started coming home, and then they would leave, they would get ready and then they would leave and go out. Finally after two weeks, I said, like, “What the heck? Where are you guys going? What are you doing?” And so they sat us down and they shared with us the concept of what they were building and why they were building it and the mission behind it and what it meant for our family and everything and so I was all in. Literally at that point, I said, well, I was seven and I was like, “Well, what can I do?”

They said, “Well, we’re going to get boxes,” but at that time, boxes were delivered to the house, “So we’re gonna get these boxes delivered to the house, if you can help us open the boxes, and put the extra stuff on the shelves, great,” and so I started there and then I started taking orders and by the time I was 12, 13, I was doing a lot of the ordering. By the time I was 14, I was doing most of the ordering, processing, compiling the orders, and then of course when the distributors would come and so forth and collect and everything, I was also at 14 doing it for one of the people that were on their team. I was doing it for them because they were in the US for half the year and so I was running their business as well, so I had a very unique upbringing in the space of business.

When I was 16, I started my own business, not only my own team direct sales, but also selling whatever product we had, whatever product I could get access to, I started selling it door to door literally. I sold fax machines, I’ve sold air treatment systems, I’ve sold business opportunities, I’ve sold everything under the sun incentive programs, Home Shopping delivery, when before it was a thing and so I’ve had a lot of experience in that as well, and so I was really, right from the beginning, involved in that business while my brother was involved with my dad and his business. Of course my mom and my brother were involved in that business and and so my dad actually at some point got out of and and this is – I know there’s a long story but just there I think there’s some context here – is he got actually out of that business and focused exclusively on the the automotive side and my mother and I continued to build a direct sales business and then about six seven years later, when I was about 17 he came back on and we ended up building the three of us into building that business. I did more the back end, they did all the front end, presentations and speaking and traveling and everything and we built that business where it replaced his other businesses, the income, and they retired at 49, into their business full time, we built that business up until I was in my mid 20s. We built it to about an eight figure business at that point back in the 90s and I literally thought that’s what I was gonna do the rest of my life.

Life apparently had a different plan, we can talk about that but it was an incredible journey. I learned a lot on the way up, learned even more on the way down, and eventually, of course, I had partnered with my parents when I was in my 20s, formally. That business now still exists, but it’s now going to be 43 years old in May, so it’s been quite the journey.

Laurie Barkman:

Wow. That’s a lot. Let’s rewind just a little bit. 43 years, so that’s a lot of time and when you started you were seven. A lot of people say, “Oh, yeah, you know, I had a role in the company,” sounded like you had a really significant role, and you learned so much, and you were able to really grow as a person. I want to come back to the business you started separately in a moment. Let’s talk about you and your mom. I mean, wow, so many teenagers don’t want to be in the same room as their parents and you were here, you were building a company with your mother and what was the name of the company at that time?

Nicole Jansen:

Well, we were, we had an Amway business, but Jan’s International Associates was the name of our company.

Laurie Barkman:

Okay, so Jan’s International Associates, and so here you are, working with your mom on this, what was that dynamic? Could you separate being mother-daughter? Were you business partners? Looking at her now in a different light now that you’re looking backwards, how would you describe the relationship?

Nicole Jansen:

It’s interesting. We had, I’ve always had a unique relationship because of this with my parents and so we never really had like a parent-child, where it’s like, you have this curfew, I’ve never had a curfew so it’s kind of hard to give your 16 year old or 15 year old, a curfew when they’re out of meetings with you, and they’re running and doing things and so forth. It’s a different dynamic, right, it’s not just hanging out with your friends and so we’ve always had a unique relationship, a very close relationship. 

In fact, the reason why my dad decided to get out of that business and stick with the Automotive is because they initially created quite a bit of success in that business and then my dad got creative and started getting into other ventures, sold the Sunoco franchise, which was very successful, and put that money into another business and lost everything and then was like, “I was doing fine before and all this crazy stuff is happening, I’m gonna go back to what I know,” and my mom said, “I believe there’s still something here, and so I want to continue to grow it and so forth,” and so he was against it, she was for it. I said, “I just believe in it as well,” and so I supported her.

We traveled to the conferences down to the US once a month and we spent a lot of time together, she got certified as a color consultant, and she did all the makeup stuff and all the meetings and so I supported her in that so I was like her support, and most of the most of the time, interestingly enough, I actually wanted… one of my downsides is that having a little bit of an ego. I was like, “I’m going to help you build your business. That’s my future legacy and one day, I’m going to build my own team, and I’m going to be successful on my own without any, blah, blah, blah, right?” Without feeling like anybody could say that my parents helped me do it kind of thing. Such a little ego at the time but yeah, of course, well, because I saw a lot of people, kids who would ride on the coattails of their parents and go, “We did it,” and I know full well that they didn’t have a part in it. You know what I mean? And so I didn’t want to be that kid.

Laurie Barkman:

Is that why you started your own thing at 16?

Nicole Jansen:

Yes, that is also why I started my own thing because I wanted to prove myself to myself, and perhaps to everyone else, and so forth. But later on, I realized that that was actually very foolish and it put me in a position that when things started to go awry, I didn’t have quite the influence that I could have had. Even though I was speaking, I was talking to my parents and we were in meetings privately and I was going, “This is crazy. This shouldn’t happen, blah, blah, blah,” I didn’t outwardly have the influence to make as much an impact as I could have.

Laurie Barkman:

Sure, so let’s talk about the challenge. The business was growing and at that time, you said it got to be as high as eight figures, which is pretty significant size and as you said, it’s a direct sales company and you also mentioned Amway. I remember Amway when I was growing up, but that might not be a company name people are familiar with, as it relates to the story. Do you want to share a little bit more about who Amway was at the time?

Nicole Jansen:

Well, it was and still is, I mean, I think they do what like $12-$13 billion a year in business so it’s a large organization, it is also a multi-generational company itself but  my parents, because they were business owners treated it like a business and I know that people have different experiences with it but essentially, as a direct sales business, you build a team, and you help your team be successful, you help people buy their own products, they have customers, and all of that, and they’re building volume so rather than going to a to a store, and purchasing your product from a store, and giving all the profit to the store, you’re now sharing the profits of that, and the more volume, the higher profits, and there’s different bonus structures, and so forth. 

Because my parents were business owners, and business minded, they attracted a lot of business minded people and so they had a very lucrative business early on, very profitable business very early on, because they understood the concept of customers, not just trying to buy their own stuff and get a bunch of people buying their own stuff, they actually had a lot of customers, and we’re very, very profitable. There’s other dynamics with that, of course, you end up doing events, you end up having…building a system around that so it’s not just that business. It’s also how do you support the people that are in your organization, and one of the things my parents were very much an advocate of and Zig Ziglar used to have the saying, ‘help enough other people get what they want, you’ll get what you want’ and my parent understood mission first, team second, individual third.

Inherently, they just built it that way and said, “Look, we’re going to build this, help a lot of people be successful, and ultimately, it’s going to help us as well,” and it did for the longest time. But it fell apart, because when you have – we talked about an eight figure business, and that’s in the 90s – so you can multiply that today, it’s a pretty substantial business and we had vertical growth so we would have easily – we had in place already the people that were accelerating and growing, that we would have easily gotten to $100 million. Well, the problem is that when you have numbers that start to get big, you get..maybe people have never had that level of success and so forth. They get a little greedy, they get a little egotistical, maybe thinking, “I’m all that,” and more and so that’s what we started to experience with our what’s called an upline. This person who registered us, a few levels up, who started to get very egotistical on one and all the credit for the for the growth, and then started to create dissension in the organization, going around my parents, and building relationships with some of the leaders in our team and saying, “Oh, they don’t know what you’re talking about, you need to listen to us,” and that creates confusion in that organization and in that structure. It creates confusion like that in any organization, but especially in that structure. People go, “I didn’t sign up for this,” like we’re doing fine, everything’s great, and my parents were certainly not perfect, and didn’t do everything perfectly, perfect leaders none of us were and so but that dynamic started to create friction and so yeah, we can talk more about that.

Laurie Barkman:

Let’s dive into that because I’m curious about what happened, so the business started to fall apart, you said the root issue if we go to this part of it is an undermining of your parents, people were working around them to get call it the direct sales relationships with the next and got the the level like you said, the next level of folks in the organization who are in the direct selling and I don’t know how big it got and how many levels were in your in your company but it sure seems like no matter what in the supply chain, if you don’t have the relationships with your call it your distributors, if there’s an end run you’re getting disintermediated like your parents were disintermediated by the low level up. How long did that process unfold, and how did your parents find out about it?

Nicole Jansen:

Well, just to be clear, they didn’t try to… you can’t get rid of people in your team, so they’re still there. It’s communication-wise and relational-wise trying to go around but from a structural standpoint, obviously, it was still our business. In terms of how many years, it was over a few years of a deterioration, there was actually a couple of phases of deterioration and where we discovered it is because they had a certain way that they want to go and it was ego driven, and greed driven but they had a certain direction they wanted, again, more credit, and we saw that because we were actually in a greater structure of system and events and conferences and all of this stuff, and somebody had put this amazing system together, and we were plugged into it and yes, all of us were bringing a lot of people even that upline is bringing a lot of people to those events, we’re talking 1000s of people, I’m used to going to conferences, like 30-40,000 people a month, at these conferences, and at the height of our of our growth, we had 3000 people a week at opportunity meetings on a weekly basis with about 43% guests so you got a good growth pattern there so a lot of people, a lot of impact, we had 1000s of people in our organization as well and so a lot of moving parts, a lot of relationships and so forth. But yeah, we were part of the system, and they said, “We want to go, we want the credit so we want to go and do our own thing,” so that’s actually not a good idea because what we’ve got here is really good and so they ended up going around us to the leaders in our organization, and getting their buy in telling them how great this deal was going to be for us to go do our own events so that they can be the head honcho, if you will.

Laurie Barkman:

Sure. Well, they wanted it’s almost like the origination credit kind of language if people are familiar with that term so if they ultimately brought in that sale, they get a piece of it, and the more they get a larger piece, right?

Nicole Jansen:

Yeah, they’re gonna get…actually, they wanted to get yes, they wanted to, they were going to get paid anyway. They were going to get paid anyway and so my dad used to have a saying like, “I don’t understand why they just like cash, the checks, like, go sit on a beach somewhere.” 

Laurie Barkman:

When you fast forward and say your Janssen international company had its last days, what were those last days? Like what was going on? You’re telling me now that you lost the business, like what happened at that point when it really was at the fall?

Nicole Jansen:

What happened is, when that started, we ended up, they got the leaders to agree to go so we’re like, “We want to stay, but you’ve now got our leaders to leave,” so we wanted to keep our team together at least and so we went with them, which we knew was not going to be the greatest thing, but at least we could be together and unified and so that continued that dissension, that all obviously continued, it was a dysfunctional, very toxic environment and so it continued to accelerate, people started to quit, people didn’t want to be part of this anymore and so the business started to implode.

The numbers, everything, people started walking away from the business you’re trying to salvage and so forth, and then it gets worse, because then they’re trying more tactics to try to keep people and all of that was very toxic and so not only do we lose from a financial standpoint, but we also lost a lot in terms of relationally and not just trust, but like, because it really…there’s a lot of questioning and doubting, and gossip and all of that stuff going on and so it was like, what’s the word I’m looking for? Triage.

You’re just like trying to keep as much as possible, and look for ways to stop the bleeding and so then it was…so it kind of started off, it was slow, and then it just, it went quick and yeah, we lost everything financially, tried to keep it together and relationally and so forth. It really hit my parents hard. It really hit them hard because they were probably in their late 60s, early 60s they worked their life, put everything into it and they lost everything. 

Laurie Barkman:

Devastating.

Nicole Jansen:

Yeah, it was. It was really devastating. My mother would like sleep for most of the day and my dad, they were just in shock. As I say that business is 43 years old. What I mean by that is there still a little tiny remnant left of people who still do the product side of the business or whatever, but not the act of building side and so there’s still some residual income, which is a blessing but of course, relationships, being able to restore some of those relationships go back after the dust settles and so forth. When you think about it, and I know you’re passionate about talking about the multi-generational that we talked about on my show, this idea of being able to survive to the next generation, there’s certain things that need to be in place, in order to make that possible. 

The business model itself is designed, the business model we were in, is designed to be transferable to your children. I would have never had to work another day in my life, I mean, not that I was working a job at that time, but I would never have had to work, it was done, it was already built and so to lose that and to go, “Well, what the heck happened,” I learned so much because I was like, “I want to learn as much as possible,” because A, I don’t ever want to see my parents ever go through this again, I don’t want to ever go through it again and I don’t want to see other people go through it ever again. 

Even though I’ve not ever gone on to build network marketing again because I think I’ve got my taste already, I’m like, thank you very much, I’ve had a lot of people prospecting me for things, and I’m like, “I’m done.” But I do talk to leaders, sometimes when I do have people that I run into, and I will talk to them about some of the things that can just protect them, the humility of protecting them from themselves, putting code of honor in place, a set of agreements, making sure that you’re on the team, you’re in business with people that you actually share core values with, and a shared mission with, because if somebody’s mission is to make as much money as possible and somebody else’s mission is to help and serve a lot of people, those missions eventually will be so far apart, that when decisions are being made, you’re not going to be able to align in any way. That’s what we found, it was just like, they were in this direction and we were in this direction and saying, “Look, you do the right things. Everybody wins. That’s the whole point of the business,” and an ego even though I joke about my own personal ego of trying to I want to, but ego in that sense, greed doesn’t fit in this model but human nature is what it is and so without good mentorship, without good grounding, and staying grounded in the mission it’s easy to happen, and it happens often.

Laurie Barkman:

Well, it’s a difficult situation, as you describe, because your parents, while they had a lot of control, they didn’t control everything and there were some things that were not in their control, you have the benefit of hindsight now. Do you think if you were giving your parents advice as an outside adviser, what would you say? Do you think there were tripwires early on that we could have discovered, and you could advise them what to do differently? Or do you think this would have played out the same way no matter what?

Nicole Jansen:

differently? Or do you think this would have played out the same way no matter what?

Oh, 100% and this is where I talk about the influence and so because I position myself as I’m just their daughter, even though on paper, we were in this boat, I’m just like, “It’s their business.” I’m like, “They’re the ones on stage, and they’re the ones that be leading the way.” As I say, when the time came, I didn’t have the influence with the people but I did see it because I’m very analytical and I’m the observer just by nature I’m observing, so I remember saying to my parents, “This is going to go bad. We need to do something about this early on,” and I could even pinpoint to them. I said, “You need to go talk to so and so because they’re about ready to walk.” “No, no, no, they’re fine.” “Like, just trust me.” I don’t know if it’s a prophetic gift I have. At the time, I didn’t know what it was. All I knew is I had a sixth sense that something was not going to work and with the particular person because these are the same people that I ran their business when I was 14 so I knew them inside and out and understanding their motives and so I said, “This is not good,” and so a lot of the reason why I actually worked and ran their business was to keep them out of the picture as much as possible. I was protecting our supply chain and saying, “Yeah, you want to go to Florida and go travel. Awesome, you go do that. You go do that,” because we actually are better off here without their involvement  but when it got so big, that’s when they wanted to have more involvement come back and so forth, so the signs were there very early on. 

Coming from a European background, though, I mean, your parents, it’s like always the elders know better and so forth so I mean, I could say what my opinion was, but what do I know, right? I’m a 20 year old and a 17 year old kid, like, what do I know about life? Would I say the same thing to them? I would, and I would actually be much stronger with them and one of the things and I say this, my parents are amazing. They’re wonderful people, anybody who knows them loves them, wonderful people. One of the challenges and what I would say to them is, they were loyal to a fault. They were loyal like, “Oh, you know what, everything will work out.” They didn’t want to create the dissension in the organization, but in the process, and they learned this, they learn this, if they were to say this to themselves, they would go back but they what they did is they actually protected their people, our people, we protected them from what was going on there so they didn’t actually know and so then they were blindsided by the tactics. They didn’t understand tactics and that worked to get to that point but it didn’t work because when…it’s like when the wolf comes in to find the sheep that…and that’s probably a really bad analogy.

Laurie Barkman:

Probably in that analogy, you’d say, “Hey, there’s a wolf outside, look out the window. This is what we’re facing,” and that way, if the wolf comes in, people know what’s going on and it wasn’t so much of a shock.

Nicole Jansen:

Not only did we lose our business, but they also lost their business. 

Laurie Barkman:

They did and it’s a crisis all around. That had a lot of spillover so that’s really a challenge. I want to ask you about identity, a lot of times in a business transition like this, where it might be unexpected, or it might be sooner than we would expect that we’re going to leave the business, what happens when you think about your parents, and the identity that was so wrapped up into owning this business, what do you think is the emotional effect of it?

Nicole Jansen:

Yeah, so first of all, there was the pity party right there, myself included, like, “Why us? We’re good people? Why did this happen to us?” And then once we got through that, and it was like, “Okay, so what now?” What I did is I looked at it, there’s basically three questions, as it relates to identities; who Am I? What do I have to offer, and, what is my, what was my purpose? Like, what have I got to work with, and then what do I do with that? I spent a lot of time trying to figure that out and saying, “Like, what do I have?”

It’s interesting, because a lot of people will wrap their identity up into their success, into their relationships, into the organization, the product, you think about it. My parents have been to the White House twice for dinner, they’ve been speaking in front of 80,000 people in the Georgia Dome, traveling around the world, business in 11 countries and all of it’s gone. It’s like, what do you have? You’ve lost your finances because you’ve poured everything in and it’s like, what do you have left? Really, who am I at the core without all of that, is an important question, I think, at any time in life, to ask ourselves to be really clear on that and to realize that we are not our accolades, we are not our accomplishments. We’re not our acquisitions. We’re also not our associations, we’re also, we’re also not our adversity, either. 

Because we started to associate ourselves with the struggle, we used to have a saying, ‘greater the struggle, the greater the victory’ well, after a while, what I realized in this process of fighting against this, and then losing the battle, if you will, through this whole process was that we had fallen in love with the challenge. Greater the challenge, greater the victory. Well, you kind of fall in love with the struggle, and the struggle is a part of the process, but you don’t want to stay there and so when we identify with the adversity, it’s like somebody saying, “Well, you don’t know what I experienced, this is who I am. If you understood where I’ve been then you’d understand why I am who I am.”

I get it, and we learn from adversity, but our adversity doesn’t have to be who we are and our identity so for me I had to get beyond that and go, “Okay, what can I learn? What can I offer” Even for my parents to realize that even if my dad loves mentoring people and empowering people, my parents, just by nature, both of them are like that, he’s much more outgoing than her, but they just always did that. They just found different ways to do it. They just found different ways, because that’s who they are. They are people that empower and encourage other people and so whether it’s in this business model, or whether it was my dad, who ended up working with Mercedes, and going back to the automotive and working with Mercedes, and so forth, and helping young guys who are just getting started in life and so forth, helping them to invest and learn about real estate and all these things, and impact their lives in a significant way. It was really getting to that, this is just this is a vehicle. This is one way of how we did it for a while. Now we’re gonna do it some other way.

Laurie Barkman:

That’s really interesting. Your parents transformed how, like you said, they were very mission driven and so that was consistent and ultimately, what was driving them to do what they do, there’s just different vehicles of how they did it, which is kind of tongue in cheek, because automotive sounds a little fun there, but something you said, I thought that was really, really compelling, we are not our adversary and how many people do you know that just live for the fight and they create drama, because they like solving the drama?

Nicole Jansen:

That’s right.

Laurie Barkman:

They identify that way or they’re the associations that you have. What happens when you don’t have those associations? Does that mean you’re worthless, because you’re not part of that club anymore? Shouldn’t be that way and your parents in their 60s still figured that out, they went through the emotional side as they would, to be mournful and they lost something, and it’s okay to mourn that, but then they somehow moved on. Is that what motivated you in finding your path forward, and working with business owners and coaching people on leadership? Is that what helped you and visioning your transformation?

Nicole Jansen:

Actually happened more in the reverse because I was younger and I was like, “I just spent a whole lot of my life, a good portion of my life on this, and it’s not there anymore,” and so while they were trying to figure out and go through that grieving process, I was thinking, “I’m in my late 20s, I gotta figure out like, Plan B.” I was originally going to go to law school, didn’t because we were so busy in the business, what’s plan B? I started looking at that, and that actually created space and then I reminded them of who they are, because of some of the training and coaching and so forth. We do have a unique experience relationship, where I actually started to encourage them about who they are, and remind themselves that they’re not their business, the business itself, so it actually worked in reverse, and was able to help them to move on. 

What I did is, I extracted everything I could, and then I said, “Okay, well, with all of this that I have got, what can I do with it,” and that’s how I just started, that’s why I started Discover The Edge, which was initially back in 2005. I initially was teaching personality dynamics, because every business is a people business and if you can understand people at the core, you can also understand playing to your strengths versus getting out of control so you can stay in that zone of thriving.

Every strength taken to an extreme becomes a weakness. Motivation, ambition is great, taken to an extreme becomes greed, and all of that. So, and that applies to any kind of strength. But I started teaching that and then quickly as I was getting into businesses, and I had done it over the years, many times I’ve gone into business, people asked me to come in and help them with whatever projects and so forth so when I was in these businesses, doing workshops, and trainings, and so forth, and talking to the leaders, I was also noticing other things that are going on in the business, and so I was like, “Hey, what about this? What about that? You might want to…we could work on this area, but there’s a whole lot of other stuff that’s going on that could serve you and your team,” and so that’s when they started asking me, could I mentor them? Could I coach them in that, and initially, I said “No, because I don’t see myself as a coach,” and finally, it was just like, “Alright, fine. Okay, I’m a results-driven person, I’m not a therapist,” and they said, “No, no, we don’t want a therapist.” 

“Okay, so are you sure? Because I’m really direct and to the point and let’s do this right.” Honest, loving all of that compassionate but tell like it is. If you’re sinking, I’m not gonna let you sink, I’m not gonna just let you know, sit there and wallow in it. I actually got a reputation of being able to turn things around really quickly and going into companies and not just turning around and transforming the relationships but also the systems and maximizing human potential, maximizing the business potential, looking at the business, separating it, the identity piece and all of that and so I started. 

I’m so grateful, I don’t ever want to repeat it, but I am so grateful for that life experience so that I can use it, and it’s given me so much fodder to use in what I do today, and it has actually given me the opportunity where… I mean, I used to meet with… I met with billionaires, and all these different opportunities and here I am, I can talk to anybody, any place and feel comfortable in that environment and talking about business and different dynamics and talking with leaders at the highest levels, and they get really complex and all their challenges and so forth, and be able to cut through it to what is the real issue, and help them to move forward, but it’s because of that experience. 

What I just was like, I don’t know why, but I just was blessed with this voracious desire to get extract all the lessons out of it that I could and later on, my mother actually said to me, “Well, you got a lot more out of this experience than we did, because you pulled all of the experience out,” and then I went back and taught them and that’s actually even with reminding them of what the success is, I had to remind them at one point saying, “Hey, you realize a couple of immigrants came here,” my dad came with $20 in his pocket, or $80 and days later, could build a business like this, it could do all these things, could impact people around the world, you still have impacted their lives even though that business doesn’t exist, you impact their lives, you see where they’re at right now and what they’ve been able to accomplish. It’s incredible and I had to remind them of who they are, and so that they could move on from there and do it in a different arena, as I said.

Laurie Barkman:

You really helped them in so many ways. I love the relationship you have with your parents. It’s special, it’s unique and you’ve been on the team, but then you’ve been a coach to them, in addition to being a fantastic member of their family, I’m sure… 

Nicole Jansen:

…and a little refereeing here and there…

Laurie Barkman:

…and a referee too. If we were going to take these lessons learned and think about the environment for the last two years, it’s certainly been a time of adversity, very stressful, challenging for business owners and employees alike, everybody. It’s just been challenging and a lot of times we talk about resilience on this show. I talk to entrepreneurs about how they overcome challenges so in light of your story, what are one or two things that you would say to a leader who’s listening, that is still feeling some of those effects, and thinking about how do they keep moving forward? How do they be resilient? How do you inspire them?

Nicole Jansen:

Yeah, great question. Well, first and foremost, what are you focusing on? Are you focusing on the past? Are you focusing on what is not? Are you focusing… I’m not saying you ignore, you do need to be honest with the issue at hand, what’s going on, and the reality of what’s going on, and you need to keep your eyes fixed going forward. Moving forward is the, “So what now what,” okay, if this is what is, what are we going to do with it? Because I think a lot of times, people, if you are trying to ride a bicycle, and you’re looking down at the ground, or you’re driving a car, and you’re looking down at the ground, right in front of you, you’re gonna crash, you need to look up and keep your eyes fixed. There’s a scripture in the Bible that says without vision people perish. If you don’t have vision, then your people aren’t going to have vision. You gotta step back, take a moment, take a breather, and go, “What are we doing? Where are we going? I didn’t expect us to be here. But from here, where are we going? What’s the original mission? Does it still apply?” 

f it needs to be adjusted or changed, then maybe that’s the time to do it. Sit down, get somebody you can mentor maybe from an X expert outside perspective, but that’s one of the first things and also, with that is do not try to pretend or put the pressure on yourself that you need to know it all or that you should know it all. I hear a lot of times business owners or leaders they’ll say, “Well, I should know this,” maybe but it’s like that’s a judgment. That’s a very, that’s a shaming question and that’s not going to serve you so you want to look at and go, “I don’t know everything,” and even those that try to “I’m doing fine, everything’s fine.” It’s not fine. Clearly, it’s not fine. Define fine for me because that doesn’t look fine to me, so you’ve got it as is but then don’t judge yourself.

Look at it and say, “Okay, now what?” and get the professional help that you need. Get some outside perspective, don’t try to figure it out on your own because sometimes you’re too close to it to actually see what’s going on or to see the clear path forward, because you’re so in it, and you’re so emotional about it, so focus. The other thing is your words, what are you saying, because your words create your world. “This will never happen. We’re going down. This is terrible.” Your words, create your world. “We’re going to get through this, we can figure it out. We may not have the answers, but I can find the answers.” Your words are really important and then make sure that you have the right people around you that are supporting you, that are uplifting you not sugarcoating it, but that have expertise, that have been down this road before they can say, “Here’s the pathway forward.”

Laurie Barkman:

That’s great insight, great advice, really appreciate that. You’ve shared so many wonderful things with us today, but as I always asked my audience, excuse me, ask my guests if they have a favorite quote to share. I wonder if you have one too?

Nicole Jansen:

Well, I shared one earlier, actually, the Zig Ziglar. People get what they want, you’ll get what you want. But I would say that one of the things that became a model for our family through all of this, and even as people were speaking against us, and rumors and all that kind of gossip and negativity was, ‘people of integrity expect to be believed and when they’re not, they let time prove them right.’ The one thing that I can say about my parents, and they felt bad about not having an inheritance to leave us and all that stuff and I said, “You know what? The most valuable thing that you can pass onto the next generation is integrity.” I can walk down the street and I don’t have to look behind me. I don’t have to worry about who you screwed over or whatever. I know that you weren’t perfect, but you operated from integrity and that’s the greatest legacy that you can leave.

Laurie Barkman:

Absolutely. If people want to get in touch with you, Nicole, and learn more about what you do and how you might help them through their own transformation, how should they find you?

Nicole Jansen:

They can go to leadersoftransformation.com, yeah, that’s the best place to go. My podcast is there. I have a page on there for coaching. If people want to find out more about the type of coaching that I provide, and if they want to book a consultation, they can even book a consult there with me and we can talk to their specific situation and see how I can help.

Laurie Barkman:

Wonderful. Thank you so much for being on the show today, and I just love the conversations we have and I’m sure we’ll have more in the future.

Nicole Jansen:

Awesome. Well, thanks for having me. I appreciate it, Laurie.

Laurie Barkman:

Listeners, thank you so much for tuning in. You can always catch Succession Stories on any of your favorite podcast players or YouTube. Don’t forget to like and subscribe to the show! If you want to maximize the value of your business and plan for future transition, reach out to me for a complimentary assessment at meetlauriebarkman.com. Tune in next week for more insights from transition to transaction. Until then…here’s to your success. 

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