In our second episode of the series “How She is Nailing the New Year” Susan chats with Jessica Weidman, Senior Manager of Development at the Texas Women’s Foundation. Jessica understands what it’s like to wear many different hats, both at work and at home. She shares some of the tools she uses to keep everything flowing smoothly and encourages us to evaluate if what we are doing is helping us achieve success.
Where to find what Jessica and I discussed
Texas Women’s Foundation
You Tube Videos on Time Blocking
Half Breed: Finding Unity in a Divided World by LeTesha Wheeler
Susan: Jessica, I am so excited to have you on the podcast this week. I have known you for a little while at this point. And it is just so nice to be able to sit back and kind of continue through January talking with folks that I know, that I love, that are amazing women who are doing really fantastic and amazing things. So before I sit here and talk with you all about you just from my perspective, how about I let you speak for yourself and share with us a little bit about who you are and what you do?
Jessica: Oh, you are so sweet. And I was simply honored to be here, number one. You’re such a dear friend. So thank you so much. Yeah, so I guess…Hey, I’m a woman who wears many different hats. As you know, I’m a wife, a mother, a hard worker, a servant leader in so many ways, because I really just love serving others in every aspect of my life. And the way that we know each other, which I know you’ll probably touch on this too, but it’s through Texas Women’s Foundation, which is formerly known as Dallas Women’s Foundation.
I’ve been working on the development team for three years. And just like you, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting incredible women who are just as passionate about uplifting women and girls like I am. Of course, today I’m not here on behalf of the foundation. I have to say that. But I’m here as a friend, and I’m really looking forward to our conversations. So I hope that’s a good kind of explanation.
Susan: No, I think it’s perfect. This whole conversation came about because of a previous conversation we literally had at lunch. And while we were sitting there, I said, “Jessica, we should be recording this.” This is some sort of attempt to kind of get at the nuts and bolts of what that conversation was. And what we were talking about was, the foundation had literally just gone from the Dallas Women’s Foundation to the Texas Women’s Foundation.
So you guys had gone rebranding, but a pretty significant expansion when you think about going from Dallas to Texas. And so, shortly after that had happened, you kind of took on…Well, you got a promotion, and you took on a new role. And you were already wearing a few hats, but I think you started wearing more hats. And so tell us a little bit about that and what that transition was like for you.
Jessica: Yes. Yes. So, I remember that conversation like it was yesterday. And like you said, for me at Dallas Women’s is Foundation, then Texas Women’s Foundation. And really, I feel like anyone who works in a nonprofit role can relate to me when I say that you really juggle a lot of different responsibilities just across the board, just to be sure that we’re, you know, staying on target with our goals.
And in a lot of ways, you just kind of fill in, right? Where where you need to fill in and, and so sometimes, you know, of course, many working moms can relate. You know, there are always new responsibilities when you start the new day. You know, what is my day going to look like? I’ve got all of these new tasks, because somebody’s got to do it, right? And, and that was no different for me and my new role.
And so just like you said, you know, having to learn how to manage my time more effectively, more efficiently, you know, that was something that was very difficult for me. And I got to a point where in a lot of ways, I felt overwhelmed because there’s so many responsibilities in a day and, and how do I get it all done? And I think the best thing for me, and, you know, I shared with you that I went to… Well, I did a training, it was a webinar, and it really helped me kind of just take control. I kind of got to a point where I was so tired of my calendar controlling me. I wanted to put the roles in reverse. And so that’s what the training allowed me to do.
Susan: I really appreciate that you recognize that in yourself one, because I think so often… Well, I shouldn’t say so often. For me, sometimes it takes me a hard second for me to realize this is happening. Because I think it happens to all of us. And I think there’s, I shouldn’t say a constant tweaking, but maybe a regular reevaluation of what’s working and what’s not.
Susan: So I think it’s interesting that you found this webinar and you were able to really zero in on what things would help you move forward in this new role. Tell us a little bit about that training. How have these new tools that you learned helped you going forward? How have they helped you in your personal life, in your work in your career? How have they helped you get that space that you need to facilitate growth?
Jessica: Yes. I love that you asked this. And before I really dive into kind of the details of the training and the things that I’ve learned, I really want to take a moment also to kind of put that moment into context. I’m going to be a little vulnerable in sharing that. As a working mom, I often feel like I am failing at everything. Is there somebody out there that like feels that way? I think there are a lot of women.
I can speak for everyone. And for me personally, you know, I’ve been living in North Dallas for nearly 13 years. My husband and I, we have two children, a seven and a three-year-old and, you know, that’s a loaded statement there, a seven and a three-year-old. So, you know, just kind of managing being a working mom. And the thing about Texas, we all know that everything in Texas is big. So when I commute to work every day, I feel like I’m going on a road trip. I really do.
You know, just the hustle of just my everyday life. It requires so much discipline when it comes to maximizing my time and to take care of my responsibilities at work and to take care of my family. And truthfully, whether you work in or out of the home, our lives are just simply overwhelming. There’s so much that I have on my plate and saying yes to every request that comes my way. What I realized in that moment is some of this is actually my fault. Is there anyone else out there guilty of just over-committing?
Jessica: And so, I’ve been so guilty of this and I took a moment to, like you said, you did the same thing, take a step back, reevaluate. I realized that I was not making the best use of my time to set myself up for success when it came to my work, when it came to my family. Me and my husband, we serve in leadership at our church and I was just stretching myself so thin to help other people reach their goals that I was neglecting my own, and so I had to get real with myself and I had to say the same amount of time in the day is anyone else. And so I had to start protecting my time for the things that matter the most to me. And so about the training, I know that was a long kind of context there.
Susan: No. That was so helpful because they all feel that way. And if there are tips and tricks out there that people can implement, I think the more that we can share with each other, I think the more that we can be honest and talk about these things out loud. I just think it’s going to be a huge help, especially when we’re talking about setting intentions for, I guess, in this case is 2020. So we can just say a new calendar year.
Jessica: Right? I mean, this is a fresh start. And it really is a fresh start. And for me, I’m a very organized, nice person anyway, and so I’m so taking this webinar, it really made me think about my time management in a way that I could really get organized. The training webinar was offered through our HR vendor. And for me, the way that they kind of structured the webinar and the training was life-changing. I mean, it really was because it helped me find a method of organizing my days in ways that would ultimately set me up for success.
And if I had to summarize the biggest takeaways, like the biggest principles of the training, I could actually sum it up like this, you know, everything is not important, and everything is not urgent. Okay. And even just that principle in itself was mind-blowing for me because I used to be the type of person that if you asked me to do something, I just drop everything to help you right then and there. I’m also, that type of person that has a really, really, really hard time at telling people no.
And so this training, it really helped me learn how to prioritize my tasks in a way that helped me focus on the things that would best help me fulfill my responsibilities at work. And it gave me freedom to say no, and not allowing other priorities to get in the way of things that were important to me like spending time with my family. There were times I said no to meetings after work because I plan this time to cook dinner for my family and nothing’s going to get in the way.
Or taking time to rest and reset, taking time for me and do the things that are most fulfilling for me. And so being able to just kind of take these tips, it really helped me organize my life and prevent the over-commitment that we are all so guilty of.
Susan: Yes, we all do really need to work on over-commitment. What is one thing…? This is totally off-topic, but what is one thing that you have been able to say no to that you didn’t think you’d be able to say no to? Yes, three on that one.
Jessica: I can’t think of anything really specific that stands out right now. But you know what I will say like I can be more specific. You know what I mean by prioritizing and like protecting my time. Like, for example, Mondays for me, are mostly like my administrative days where I focus on the most important urgent tasks that I have for the week. So if I have deadlines this week, I’ve already blocked off Monday afternoon to start on those tasks that are deadlines because I don’t want the entire week to get away from me before I even start.
And so even though responding to an email, how many of us allow our emails to just take over our day, especially on a Monday, right? You come back, you’ve got this whole just litany of emails and every email is not urgent. Every email is not important. Remember those two takeaways. So there are times when I get an email, if it really needs an explanation, if I really have to plan something out and if it’s not really urgent…You know, I’ve actually blocked off time on Tuesday.
Okay, I’m going to get back to you on Tuesday morning, right? Because I really don’t want my Monday to be spent on catching up on emails all day. Because guess what, my Monday, I have urgent things to do. I have deadlines this week. And my Monday afternoon is, is where I have this full block of time where I can get it done. So for me, I had to do that because otherwise my whole Monday will get away from me and I really don’t feel like I’ve accomplished any of my priorities.
And so building in that consistency, like I said, that’s my every Monday, my every Tuesday morning, I’m getting back to all of those people I didn’t get to on Monday, and maybe there’s some more. And so it really helped me just build in these routines. In my role, like I said, I wear so many different hats and I really had to narrow down the tasks that I absolutely must do in order to be successful in my role. For example, I’ve got to get out of the office and meet with my donors. I’ve got to network and meet new people. I need to take time and thank people and check in with them and make sure they’re doing okay.
The funny thing is, these are things that really are, they come very naturally to me, and things that I love to do anyway. So prioritizing this as a part of my calendar, not only set me up for success in my role, but it brings me like the greatest sense of joy, you know, being able to focus on the things that I enjoy. And so, like I said, having that time already prioritized, it just really empowers me. Because guess what, my calendar is already full. I’m sorry, I can’t help you. I don’t have time because I’ve already prioritized my time for these specific things that I must do. So does that kind of make sense? I’m sorry I couldn’t give you like a specific, but in a broader sense, that’s how I was able to really get organized. And really, like I said, set myself up for success just by making sure that I was using my time to do the things that I know I need to do.
Susan: Well, and I think you touched on something and you didn’t lay it out exactly like this. But there are metrics that we are all measured by, and we know what those are, and whether they are set for you, or you set them yourselves or you set them yourself. And it’s one of those if you have those metrics, if you have those things in place that you know, at the end of the day, this is what I need to accomplish. For you, you need to be meeting members and making sure… I mean, it’s a revenue thing for you. For some people, they need to have a certain article written by a certain day. I’m thinking of myself. It’s things that you have to do specifically to meet your end goals for either your… I don’t know. Everybody has different things. Year end bonus, whatever… Maybe you’ve got something you’ve thought yourself that if I hit X, then I’m going to get myself Y. Whatever those goals look like, we have to figure out a way to meet those goals.
And I think that’s one of the other things by prioritizing your time, you’re also able to meet your metrics and whatever your own personal goals are. I mean, you could set this up, however you want to. I think what you’re facilitating here is, “Hey, this is what I’ve implemented in order to make X happen.” And I think it’s really incredibly helpful.
Jessica: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Susan: What are some things you found with this new format that might have surprised you? Was there anything that just surprised you that you weren’t expecting?
Jessica: Yes, just like I said, being the person that can absolutely just say no. I have never been that person. It’s very hard for me because, you know, we did a Strengths Finders actually this year and I found out that I’m that type of person where I like to empower the people around me to be successful at what they do best. To me it’s about really helping others achieve their maximum potential. But where does that leave me? If I’m busy helping, everyone else, where does that leave me? And the fact that I have actually transitioned to be that person, to really let my no be no and not feel guilty.
Sometimes as women, when we say no, that guilt kind of, sets in and you feel like,” Oh, no, how is she going to get this done if I don’t help?” Or I don’t know, “I’m missing, I’m missing this function or I’m missing this birthday or I’m missing this meeting.” Or, “What’s going to happen if I’m not there?” And I had an epiphany. I actually last year, December I got to listen and hear Michelle Obama when she came to Dallas, and one thing she said is she does the same thing. She protects time on her calendar and for her family, because you know what she said. Get this. So the First Lady of the United States, you know, the former first lady says that she’s just not that important to be here. And when I thought about that, I said, “If Michelle Obama doesn’t feel that she’s as important then who am I to feel like this function is just going to crumble if I’m not there?” I’m going be okay. And for me to say no, let my no be no and not feel any shame or guilt about it. I mean, that was the surprising thing. It’s actually very freeing you. We should all say no a little bit more often.
Susan: But I liked that you added we should say no, and not feel shame or guilt around it. Because that, I think is the trickier part. I’ve said no to people and then I feel awful about it. Because, “Oh my God. They really needed me and I could have gone if I have been there and yada, yada, yada.” But it does get back to the, “Who am I?” And it did. Okay. And could they have used you? Absolutely. They would have found a way to use you, but it doesn’t mean you have to be there. That is so good. Oh, that’s good. Don’t feel shame.
Jessica: Thank you.
Susan: Do you read Brené Brown at all? This is way off-topic. She has whole books on shame and dealing with shame and you need to pick up one of her books. I’ll just go back now. What are some of the tools 2019 that you learned that you’re taking into 2020 and then vice versa? Was there anything that you learned in 2019 that really was maybe helpful, but you didn’t have to take into 2020?
Jessica: Yeah, there were actually… I would say if I were to look back on my year, the three kind of key takeaways of things that really helped me. You know, like I said, when I think about, you know, what was really, really the most helpful, I would say, there were three things: being able to focus, to stop the multitasking. I actually remember having this on my resume that I was a master at multitasking.
After, like I said, this, really, like, I was proud of it. After I did this, I was like, you know what, I’m taking that off. I literally went and I took it off my resume because when we multitask… Do you ever feel like you’ve done everything and you’ve done nothing at the same time, right? I mean, I realized that I just was not very effective at you know, marking things off the list. So, staying focused is key. And it really helps me with my just own, mental well-being.
I have to focus on the here and now. What do I have to achieve today? That’s it. Once I think about the big picture, anxiety sets in, and if I can just focus on this one thing, I can rest assured that the steady grind of what I’m doing today then tomorrow and then the next day, it’s helping me. It’s helping me accomplish that big plan or that big goal that I’m working towards. I mean, I don’t call it slow and steady. I call it small and steady. Small things add up to big things. And keeping that in mind, like I said, staying focused and focusing on the small things. That’s one thing I absolutely am going to take into 2020.
The second thing, self-care. I have to be honest, I am the worst at taking care of myself. The time that I set aside for myself is at five o’clock in the morning when my kids are in the bed and no one needs me so I get up I actually pound the parking lot doing burpees and push-ups and laps with my Camp Gladiator friends and taking some time for me is essential to my sanity.
It’s easy to burn out so you’ve got to build in those breaks whatever that looks like for you. For me, it’s fitness, it’s working out. That’s when I can kind of get out all of the jitters and all of the frustrations. That’s how I start my day. Another third thing that I definitely am going to take into 2020 when I look at my calendar and the things that I prioritize is for me is actually prayer.
Prayer for me is really big. I like to sit down with my tea and my journal, just me and God and I can always rely on him to give me peace. So, I was actually just talking to my husband last night about how challenging it is for me to live in Dallas when you most of our extended family lives in Mississippi. And so funny, I bribed my mother a million times, I kid you not, to come here and move in with me. Like the struggle is really real.
So, like I said, three things for me, focus and taking better care of myself, prayer. Those are the things that for me, that I prioritize that really help me stay on task, kind of building in that time. I think for anyone listening, whatever that looks like for you, do that and make it a priority. That’s what’s going to help you succeed in every area of your life when you can be sure that you’re whole and you can show up 100% every day.
Susan: That is very good. That is amazing. I love what you’ve incorporated and I love those three takeaways. That’s fantastic. And I also really appreciate because we don’t have family that live here, either. So, I really appreciate you saying how hard it is to live far from family and figuring out how to do that with kids. It’s not easy. And I think so many people live far, far enough away from family where it’s not like mom, or you know, aunt so and so can just come over at the drop of a hat and go and help out. It’s a lot. It’s a lot to take on. So I’m glad you mentioned that. Okay, three fun questions before we end. This has been fantastic. But I know you…
Jessica: Me too. Thank you for inviting me.
Susan: How do you like to start off a new year? And some people I’ve realized this is the first year for me where normally I’m very school calendar-based. So I’m very academic year focused. So like I kind of kicked off at the beginning of the academic year, and now I’m kind of, six months later and I’m going to do it again. So I kind of like doing it twice. But how do you like to start off your new year? Is it Are you a goals and resolutions person? Are you a word person? Is there what you want to read before the end of the year? What does that look like for you?
Jessica: I’m so glad you asked this. I usually am a goals and resolutions person because my husband is too. We usually do it together. We’re a little bit behind the ball but we’re going to set some time. Like I said, I’m block out our calendar right when our kids are in the bed and focus on those things. And we’re going to do it. We love to sit down and number one, like our goals start with finances. What can we do this year? Like last year, we were big on giving, like we really wanted to give.
We really wanted to be able to support the organizations, the people around us and whatever that looked like, financially, we wanted to be able to set some money aside for that. We wanted to save, we increased our percentage on our retirements last year because we want to be more aggressive in how we’re saving for the future, or for our kids, you know, with the 529 plans and things like that. I mean, we really sit down and get detailed about, okay, what are we going to do with our money this year?
And then also, what are we going to do with our time? Like I said, we both like to serve together in our church home. And this last year was awesome. We became marriage coaches. We are working with a ministry called Renew at our church, where people are really just taking their marriage either first, from surviving to thriving or from thriving to just amazing, incredible marriages. And so that was something that came about, and the fact that I said, no, I said no to some other commitments. It actually, when this one came around, I was able to say yes, and I love that. God has his way of doing things like that. It was very wonderful.
And so this year, you know what, we’re pairing down. The fact that we took on that new responsibility, I’m thinking about okay, what am I going to take off my calendar this year? What responsibility am I going to let go because I started to feel a little bit of burnout towards the end of the year. And you never want your commitments to feel like what we were talking about that feeling of overwhelming. You definitely don’t want that to set in.
And so, yes, like I said, money, time, hopefully we’re going to go on some vacations this year and I can plan that out. As far as me personally, I am so bad. Like I like I said, I’m a mom, I work. When I really think about me personally, what I want to do, just me, I love photos. I really love taking pictures and videos. And for me personally, I want to start setting aside some time to make photo books.
It’s so funny, my son, he’s three years old now. And so he’s aware of the fact that I made this really nice, special baby book for my oldest daughter back then when I had one child. I had all this time. I made her book. And now he’s like, Mommy, where’s my baby book? I’m like, “Oh my gosh, it’s been three years. I haven’t done his book.”
Susan: You are not alone.
Jessica: No pictures.
Susan: They’re all on my phone and I’ve got stuff stuffed in the box.
Jessica: You’ve got all this stuff, don’t you?
Susan: Yes, but it’s not put together. It’s that last step.
Jessica: No. We’re going to hold each other accountable. We’re going to take a day on a weekend. And we’re going to tell our families that hey, we’re ghosting, we’re out of here. And we’re going to get together at Starbucks and we’re going to do these photo books together. How about that? That’s the resolution there.
Susan: Yes. That’s amazing. Yes, let’s do that for sure.
Jessica: But anyway, I mean, yeah, I’m a resolutions person. And I do like to think about… I’m always very forward-thinking and so planning ahead, you know, kind of what we’re going to do collectively as a family, you know. Even at my job, we sit down… We are in our third quarter and so we’re thinking about what do we need to do to get to goal by the end of our fiscal year.
So, I mean, in every area of my life, we’re sitting down and we’re strategizing and we’re really thinking about the future and I love it. I love that people do that because the beginning of the year is a great time to just reset, reevaluate, just kind of have a fresh start. And so, yes, that’s what I’m doing.
Susan: Well, that’s awesome. I had one more question. What are you reading right now? Is there anything that you are reading that either my listeners need to put on their shelf for 2020? Is there anything that you are reading that you have read that you’re like, in 2020, this is a book to read?
Jessica: Oh my gosh, I see. We talked about goals. I need to read more. I need to stop all the scrolling on my social media. That’s what I read. I’m that person that’s just reading all the updates, you know, on my Instagram and my Facebook and I’m so bad. I really have not been reading but that doesn’t mean I don’t have books on my bookshelf. I actually have a friend and her name is LeTesha Wheeler and she goes to my church and I think it’s awesome. She has this book called Half Breed and it’s a biography.
She is a mixed woman. And her book is a great story about her life. But in a lot of ways, it’s very unifying. Her message about race relations right no in this day and time. Both of us, we go to the same church. Our church is very diverse. I think it may be one of the most diverse churches in the Metroplex and to be able to come together on a Sunday morning with everybody black people, white people, Asian, you know, Latino. I mean, everybody. For her, that’s where the reconciliation begins. And like I said, I’ve got her book on my bookshelf, and I’m going to read it and next time we talk, I’ll be able to tell you all about it. How about that?
Susan: Well, tell us the name of that book one more time.
Jessica: Yes, it’s Half Breed.
Susan: Half Breed. All right. I’m looking that up. That sounds like a fantastic book to read that we should all be reading right now.
Jessica: Yes. Especially going into this political season, we need that. We need to be unified.
Susan: Yes. But just with everything that’s happening, that’s surrounding that with just the way people…Well, not that people haven’t always been mistreated. Don’t hear me wrong on that. But it’s an uptick in this. And it’s not getting better. And it is breaking my heart when I turn on the news, or just open my Reuters or AP app, and it’s like, and something else has happened. And it is a breaking my heart and I feel powerless about it.
So, thank you for bringing that book up and thank you for bringing that to the forefront of this New Year. Because you’re absolutely right. This is going to be a year to seriously consider that for sure and your own role in it. I’m talking more.
Jessica: Absolutely, yes.
Susan: Okay. Well, I have had way too much fun with you this afternoon.
Jessica: Me too.
Susan: And I just want to appreciate you for making the time to come and share with us about something that you kind of really undertook in a time or a season of change in your life. I think I always felt like you were really organized. So when you told me you were doing this at the time, I was just stunned. So I’m glad to know that most of the organized people that I feel like I know how to struggle with these things too. It just brings us closer together and makes us realize we are all human.
Jessica: Yes. That’s it. You’re right. And I hope this is helpful to you and to anyone listening. So thank you for inviting me.
Susan: Thanks for coming on, Jess. I’ll talk to you soon.
Jessica: Yes, I’ll be in touch. Thank you.