Meet Jennifer McNamara Byrnes, a Business Relationship Coach and Change Management Consultant. After spending years climbing the ladder in her industry, she was ready for a new direction! In 2017 she started Connect & Achieve, published her first book, and now has even bigger goals for the future. You’ll appreciate her wisdom on clarifying your professional direction and love her unexpected career path story.
Name: Jennifer McNamara Byrnes
Business Name: Connect & Achieve
Year Started: 2017
Location: Victoria, MN
Tell us about your business.
I help businesses build effective relationships, and successfully execute change and transformation. I am a Business Relationship Coach & Change Management Consultant.
THE EARLY DAYS
Describe your childhood in one word.
Describe your childhood personality in one word.
When you were a little girl what career did you dream of having “when you grow up”?
What was your first job?
THE LEARNING YEARS
Where did you attend college?
Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, MN. B.A. in Communication Studies
What was your first job out of college?
Information Systems (IS) Supervisor for LSG/SkyChefs, Minneapolis, MN
List your jobs until you started your own business.
- IS Supervisor, LSG/SkyChefs
- Operations Supervisor, WorkNet Communications
- Sr. Business Analyst, Qwest Communications
- Supervisor, Network Operations, Qwest
- Manager, Network Operations, Qwest
- Director, Public Safety Services, CenturyLink
- Sr. Director, Enterprise Change Management, CenturyLink
THE ENTREPRENEURIAL YEARS
What year did you decide to start your own business?
Why did you decide you wanted to start your own business?
In 2016, I had a miraculous event in my life—the arrival of my youngest daughter—which afforded me the opportunity to reflect on my career and see what I loved vs. what I wanted to change. I could finally hear the internal voice pushing me in a new direction; I listened and decided to go for it!
How is your business different today than when you first started?
I have greater clarity on where I want to focus. I received my coach certification in late 2017, but I had not defined a specific coaching area and wasn’t certain how to weave in my professional experience. However, with the help of my own coaches, mentors, and supporters, I narrowed my focus to help businesses facing or struggling with change or transformation. Since establishing my company, I have a published book, We’re All Nuts – 5 Simple Skills to Crack the Nut on Relationships, and am launching an innovative and interactive change leadership workshop in Fall 2018.
What three lessons have you learned running your own business?
- Establish a specific focus and communicate it clearly.
- Nothing is ever perfect. Let go of perfection and embrace continuous improvement.
- Self-doubt comes with the territory, so surround yourself with coaches, mentors, and supporters.
What’s next for your business? Top 3 goals.
- Launch and ramp up delivery of the workshop: share tools and skills many organizations lack but need to execute business change/transformation successfully.
- Forge new business partnerships.
- Write my next book!
What’s your strongest skill set that’s helped you succeed?
Building effective relationships!
On this journey, who have been your three most supportive people?
My husband, Paul, and my parents, Mike and Cathy.
THE BUMPS IN THE ROAD
Have you had any hardships or setbacks in your business or personal life?
Yes, of course. I worked hard to keep things in proper perspective and press forward. However, this is the hardest work I’ve ever done, and I’ll always remember my first breakdown – not pretty! But in that ugly moment, I recognized I was being foolish, and creating bigger problems by trying to keep everything tucked away. I learned to ask for and accept help. Oddly, my resolve grew stronger from that event. I also realized letting others see me so vulnerable and not pretty, and then allowing them to help me through the dark times strengthened the trust between us.
ALL ABOUT YOU
Did you always dream of owning your own business or was it a surprise on your career path?
What are your hobbies outside of work?
Discovering new music and rocking out to 80s & 90s jams, watching movies (especially thrillers & old-school horror), any outdoor activity, spending as much time as possible with my family and friends.
Tell us about your family.
I am blessed with an extraordinary husband, amazing daughters, and loving dogs.
Describe your career path to-date in one word?
I really don’t have one favorite. I donate what I can when I can. I am most passionate about helping children and animals.
Age you’d like to retire at?
I can’t see myself fully retiring. It would be a dream, however, to someday not have any financial concerns!
Travel location on your bucket list?
Introvert or Extrovert?
Ambivert – I constantly wrestle with flying solo or with the flock!
Night owl or early bird?
Neither, really, but I most enjoy the peace and solitude of the early morning
Favorite business book?
“Leader as Coach – Strategies for Coaching and Developing Others” David B. Peterson, Ph. D. & Mary Dee Hicks, Ph. D.
Favorite business tool?
Three female entrepreneurs you admire:
- Ruth Godfrey – Coach Extraordinaire and Founder of Learning Journeys
- Sara Blakely – Inventor Extraordinaire and Founder of Spanx
- Michelle Courtright – Business Start-up Extraordinaire, Founder of several successful businesses, most recently her restaurant, Fig + Farro (and my college roommate and dear friend)
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