Let’s Fix Work Episode 90:
Today I am joined by Jess Ekstrom, founder of Headbands of Hope and the author of the best-selling book, Chasing the Bright Side: Embrace Optimism, Activate Your Purpose, and Write Your Own Story. If you haven’t guessed already, I’m a naturally cynical podcast host. But I loved my conversation with Jess. Why? Well, Jess gets gritty and honest about her origin story.
Later in this episode, Jess talks a little bit about what it was like to establish a company that is a for-profit organization with a purpose driven mission. She also shares about the purpose and the process behind writing her new book. So, if you’re interested in a conversation offering optimism, hope, and answers the question, “How can the act of service fix work?” this episode of Let’s Fix Work is for you!
In this episode, you’ll hear:
- About Jess’s interesting career journey, her origin story, and how she fixed work for herself
- How Headbands of Hope is making a difference, building a legacy, and expanding
- Why she wrote her book, Chasing the Bright Side, and who this book is intended for
- Why she believes optimism is not about a mood but rather a strategy. Additionally, Jess shares her and her family’s experience coping with her uncle, Bernie Madoff’s, financial scandal
- How the act of service can help someone fix work
- Service leadership and the future of work plus how Jess helps people achieve their dream of being up on stage and talking about their passion
WHAT IS HEADBANDS OF HOPE AND WHAT IS JESS’S PHILOSOPHY AROUND MAKING A DIFFERENCE WHILE REMAINING A FOR-PROFIT COMPANY?
In April 2012 while in college, Jess Ekstrom founded Headbands of Hope after an internship at a wish-granting organization. She learned girls loved to wear headbands to express their style and personality after hair loss. This observation was the catalyst for establishing HeadbandsOfHope.com. For every headband purchased, one is donated to a girl with cancer.
Jess explains, “At its core, Headbands of Hope, has always been a philanthropic company. We’re a for-profit company, because one of the things I believe in is that you shouldn’t have to choose between making a living and making a difference. You should be able to do both at once.” To ensure the company is still following their mission, making a difference, and a profit, they follow one primary metric which is, “How many headbands are they donating?” That metric shows the entirety of the company sales and marketing.
WHAT THOUGHT AND INSIGHT DOES JESS HAVE ABOUT OPTIMISM AND HOW ARE THESE EXPRESSED IN HER BOOK?
While writing her book, Jess realized success isn’t about the absence of resistance. Instead it’s the navigation through it. She expressed, “For us to be resilient, we have to be optimistic.” Optimism is not about being happy all the time. It’s the strategy we use for better. Chasing the Bright Side is how we can channel this optimism to create a better world, one we want to live in.
HOW CAN THE ACT OF SERVICE HELP FIX WORK?
Work can be demanding and tiring, but regardless of your circumstances at work, you can still make a choice about how you are going to show up. By participating in acts of service, you set yourself up for feeling good about the mission you are fulfilling. You may smile more and feel good about what you are putting out into the world. In turn, when you show up to work, your attitude will be much brighter.
Resources from this episode:
Jess on LinkedIn
Jess on Instagram
Headbands of Hope
Jess’s book: Chasing the Bright Side
Bernie Madoff’s Niece, Whose Family Lost Nearly Everything, Now Brings ‘Hope’ to Kids With Cancer
Read more from Laurie
Work with Laurie