Louise Jenner has found HER dream job – one she’s created for herself – and now she’s helping other people to find the job or start the business of their dreams.
I first met Louise online a few years ago, and then in person, when we were both just starting out as coaches. In those days we were on that steep learning curve at business start up: busily working out exactly who we wanted to work with, setting up websites, establishing a social media presence and building our networks.
I’ve been so impressed at the way she’s developed The Dream Job Coach business so that she’s reaching out to many more people, not only through her one to one coaching but through a range of other workshops and training events in the Gloucester area and beyond.
But what’s her personal career change story?
In her previous life Louise worked in sales, culminating in seventeen years with a major UK furniture retailer, where she broke the glass ceiling for women TWICE: she was the first woman in the company to complete their sales training programme and within two years of joining them she became the first woman manager.
So what made her take the big leap and leave?
“I always say it took me four years to make an overnight decision,” joked Louise “and it started when my grandmother was taken very ill … and I took all the lieu days I’d accumulated (I was a complete workaholic) to help nurse her.”
During those three or four weeks Louise found the simple domesticity of daily tasks gave her some space to think – in fact she wrote a list of all the things she could do with her life if she stopped working in retail. There wasn’t a clear idea then of what she’d be doing but she knew she’d have her own workplace where people would make appointments to come and see her.
“But after my grandmother died I put that wish-list away in a drawer (where I found it years later) went back to work and was on the treadmill again.”
A few years later she was disappointed to be over-looked for a promotion and then came a second major life event. Louise slipped a disc while at work – oddly enough it was almost four years ago to the day of our conversation – and though initially she attempted to return to work a few days later, following some initial treatment, she was forced by the pain to take 13 weeks off work.
The period away gave her more time to think about the future but her loyalty to the company and her staff meant she continued to work for a further six months before another event prompted her to finally hand in her notice.
On holiday in Prague she and her family were caught in a freak accident while dining at an outside terrace, under a canopy: “We thought we heard fireworks … and within a split second there was an almighty crash and the whole canopy collapsed on top of us, gave me and my dad a bang on the head … a big branch of a tree had cracked off.“ They had escaped potentially fatal injuries because the table they originally booked (which had received the full force of the falling tree branch) was occupied when they arrived, so they’d chosen a different table.
When Louise and I met in 2013 we were both subscribing to regular emails from Marianne Cantwell and at the time of the Prague trip she was reading Marianne’s book ‘Be a Free Range Human: Escape the 9 to 5, Create a Life You Love and Still Pay the Bills’.
“Having a tree fall on your head, when you’ve already ignored various other signs (like slipping your disc) I just thought: I don’t know what else has to happen to make me actually change my life.”
Returning from Prague she got up at 5am the next morning to write her letter of resignation and handed it in that day – something she said was a really difficult thing to do and brought her out in hives, literally!
So what happened after the dice were finally cast?
At that stage Louise had no specific idea of what she was going to do next. Her husband had also left his job a few months earlier so they found themselves without any regular income, but they were lucky enough to have savings – and her previous generous salary level meant that she no longer had a mortgage – so taking some time off was possible.
“Although I was in a fortunate position, I wouldn’t want anyone to be put off by their current financial situation.”
In fact, within 2 months of actually finishing her job, the seeds of The Dream Job Coach were sown. Now, after two full years of business she’s seen a 300% growth in income over the last twelve months.
I asked Louise, looking back now, what had been the major turning point for her?
“I was really shaken up by the accident in Prague. We’ve all heard those pithy sayings about life being short but when I read Marianne’s question [in her book ‘Be A Free Range Human’]:
If you only had one life what would you do with it?
it was one of those moments. I thought, well, I wouldn’t spend the entirety of it selling sofas! It gave me permission to feel like I did about my career.”
Now Louise is creating her dream business and choosing how she spends her time. She’s no longer spending hours in her car driving up and down the motorway and only talking about one business.
During her time in retail management Louise had been coaching and mentoring her team members and had had access to lots of excellent training opportunities. She was able to take those skills and experience in to her new career – supporting individuals to find the job or career path that really makes them want to achieve the very best they can, and which they absolutely love.
Apart from her accountant Hetty Verney and her business coach Carie Lyndene, Louise works as a solopreneur and loves it – she really values the tools and resources that are available online today to support business owners and that mean she can manage things on her own. She’s also got the support of friends and family, despite some doubts early on (though no-one said so at the time fortunately!).
What stops us taking the leap?
I wanted to know what Louise considers the most common excuse clients give for NOT making a career change?
Though she was lucky she knows there are often financial worries, so Louise suggests that we could get creative with our budget in order to start saving:
“So many of us try to buy relief or happiness because ‘we deserve it’ working in such a stressful job and we end up wasting so much good money on takeaways, treats, trips and other luxuries that we actually hold ourselves in that situation for longer than we need to.”
What a great idea; by cutting down on those extras we can start building a Change Fund for the future!
Louise also feels what stops women in particular is the issue of self-worth. Women often doubt whether they’re ‘good enough’ (the old Imposter Syndrome rears it’s ugly head).
She also thinks that we’re not brought up to think that we can do something that we love. That same work ethic that she feels she inherited means we think we have to work hard to earn “the gold stars”, but now she also sees that it’s not an indulgence to do work that is a gift to yourself.
You can read my own take on doing what you love in a previous post here.
And who inspires you?
Apart from Marianne Cantwell, I asked who’ve been the big influencers in Louise’s life? Well, there are strong women in the family like her mother and both grandmothers (she came from a farming family) who taught her their work ethic, but also writer Elizabeth Gilbert. More recently Louise has worked with Carie Lyndene and finds constant inspiration from her to develop her business.
Louise Jenner is the founder of The Dream Job Coach. If you’d like to contact her to find out more here are the links:
Read about another Career Changer here.
Meet a previous featured Career Changer Claire Hearn from Rose and Olive Vintage Tea Events.