Being a founder, entrepreneur, or a business owner can have many exciting and thrilling moments. But it is also punctuated with periods of doubt, slump, and anxiety. So how does one successfully and healthily ride the highs and lows of Entrepreneurship? In this series, called “How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur” we are talking to successful entrepreneurs who can share stories from their experience. I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrea Javor.
Andrea Javor is a CDC© Certified Divorce Coach & Career Development Coach who specializes in helping professional women move forward with confidence and conviction so they can intentionally create their happily better after. She’s the creator of the The Happily Better After Accelerator™, a strategic 4-step plan teaching professional women how to “future-proof” their happiness at work and at home. Known as The Better After Coach, she has spoken at Fortune 500 events and has been featured on various news and podcast programs.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Andrea Javor: I spent 20 years climbing to the top of the corporate ladder as a marketing professional. During this time, I also got married twice, and subsequently divorced twice and was faced with how to continue being successful at work while saying goodbye to the fairy tale life I had planned. And, after my second marriage, I had to somehow transition my loving relationship with three stepchildren. I decided to leave the corporate world behind to follow the path towards coaching women who need help feeling empowered after divorce and in their careers. Now, I work with professional women who are unsure how to pick up their very best assets and move forward through life. I help them unlock their best qualities to create a happily better after both at home and at work.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
Andrea Javor: The word “divorce” had always been something I avoided uttering out loud. I didn’t want to share that I had been through the marriage and divorce process not once, but twice. I felt ashamed that I failed at marriage. At the same time, I also consistently heard positive feedback from those closest to me. Andrea, I’ve never seen anyone handle divorce as well as you. Andrea, you’ve been able to create so much opportunity in your own life after divorce. Hearing this feedback from my crew of support, I realized that my mess is my message!
One of my business mentors used to tell me to embrace the things, good, bad, and ugly, that make me uniquely qualified to do the job. What I realized is that I was walking around my life feeling both ashamed that I’ve had two divorces and at that same time so proud at the way I had handled both. I had this constant feeling that I was meant for more, destined to do something with my life beyond what I had been doing.
I had to fully embrace both sides of my story – the shame and the sense of pride – to get to the realization that I have a huge value to add to women who are going through divorce. I fully embraced my message of living happily BETTER after divorce, and have evolved into the natural role of Career Development Coach using my skills from corporate marketing. Had I not realized that my mess is my message, I wouldn’t be making a larger contribution to society, and to strong women.
In your opinion, were you a natural born entrepreneur or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?
Andrea Javor: During my predictable, steady corporate career I was focused on the traditional path in climbing from one role to the next by constantly asking to take on more projects, aligning with the leadership team, and growing as much as possible as a leader within the organization. I didn’t daydream about being an entrepreneur and until I finally cut the ties with my corporate job, I wouldn’t really appreciate what it meant to live as an entrepreneur every day.
I think I’ve developed an aptitude for operating outside of a predictable environment. In a corporate setting, I had processes, tools, operational models, and teams working together within this predictable ecosystem. As an entrepreneur getting my business off the ground, it’s up to me to operate with confidence in isolation of that larger team. I think about creating my own ecosystem of support, and that works.
Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?
Andrea Javor: I have a good friend who is a Family Law Attorney and she said to me casually that I should look into divorce coaching. She thought I would be good at listening to people and helping them get through the process. When I went through it myself I had no idea divorce coaching existed, and, in fact, this is a burgeoning profession even today. Without her suggestion to look into it, I may not have pursued it.
I remember reflecting on the prospect of starting my own coaching business and what it would take. I knew I wanted to get certified and receive training, and that I would need capital to start up, but I really wasn’t sure about the direction altogether. One afternoon on a warm Spring day, I went out to the Chicago lakefront to take a long walk and my headphones died midway through. I constantly had music or podcasts on while walking or running. That day, I had only the sounds of the lake, the passersby, and the city to keep me company. Perhaps it was in the stillness that allowed me to breathe more deeply and listen to myself more intently. Suddenly the concept of happily *better* after popped into my head. I felt chills all over my body as I stopped, looked out on the lake, and made a promise to myself that I would go all in and pursue this path. It felt right.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Andrea Javor: The business of divorce in many ways is the business of moving forward. You have to keep moving forward, emotionally, logistically, and legally, even when you are arguably least equipped to do so during this process. Happily Better After is focused on creating a life you can get excited about on the other side of your divorce. The work I do is unlike therapy which looks backwards in your life to identify patterns and unpack baggage. Coaching helps you move forward by teaching you how to pick up your baggage and create a better life for you and your kids.
Happily Better After is in the business of “future-proofing” your happiness in the next chapter. I want to help all women who have gone through divorce or a major career change to feel confident and unstoppable on the other side.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Andrea Javor: I am comfortable in the unknown. As a business leader in the corporate world, I thrived in a predictable operating model. As an entrepreneur, I have learned to be comfortable operating without a proven model for success for my personal brand and business. For example, when I started my business I thought I would work exclusively with women going through divorce. I didn’t know I would naturally attract, and be skilled at helping, women who need more confidence at work, or are already divorced and need a boost to get them to a better story. Being comfortable in the unknown has allowed me to embrace the natural evolution of my business.
I have unfettered ambition. I have always had ambition to succeed in my career, though in a traditional setting, I set traditional goals. My ambition in Happily Better After is to make a difference in women’s lives and really see, through them, that I am helping women feel empowered after challenging life events. My mission with the company is to reduce the divorce rate for second marriages by helping women be as grounded and healthy as possible going into their next relationship.
I tap into a spirit of compassion. This is a tricky one for me. As I started my company I realized I had a natural capability to show compassion to my clients, but the real test has been in being compassionate to myself as I grow my business. Early on, I came to a point of burnout, pushing myself to create record success in record time in my company. My partner at the time pointed out that if I didn’t cut back on my hours or stress, I wouldn’t actually accomplish anything I wanted for my clients. He was right. I spent quality time infusing a sense of compassion towards myself. I now operate diligently yet calmly and in a more grounded way. I also have learned how to teach others to do for themselves what doesn’t come naturally.
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?
Andrea Javor: I have been working on a novel over the past two years. It’s a semi-autobiographical story about my divorce which involves my three step-kids and their mom who I am now friends with. Though fictionalized, the story is personal and painful. I attended a prestigious writer’s conference early in my drafting process and an agent who presented one of my workshops impressed upon me that the book needed to start with deep, dark, drama. He convinced me that if I ever wanted to sell the book to a publishing house, I needed to grab readers within the first few pages with all of the drama. I was so convinced I structured my novel around the concept.
Later, in a year-long writing class with a supportive group of peers and a highly qualified writing teacher, my first 25 pages were workshopped. The entire group felt as they though were too quickly “punched in the face” with a traumatic story without knowing the characters well enough. I was floored with the feedback. It felt devastating.
I did learn a powerful lesson, though. The saying, take what you need and leave the rest, could not be more appropriate to entrepreneurs. As an entrepreneur I absorb advice, mastermind content, online learning, and so much more on a regular basis. I think about taking advice not as gospel but as direction. And, when I hear advice that feels absolute, I now question it. That agent who taught the workshop gave absolute advice that wasn’t absolutely helpful for me. Although I wish I wouldn’t have spent a year structuring my novel with his thoughts in mind, honestly, I learned this much more valuable lesson through the process.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them create a work culture in which employees thrive and do not “burn out” or get overwhelmed?
Andrea Javor: In order to minimize feelings of overwhelm, business leaders and entrepreneurs can do three key things. First, write a clear strategy. I have a list of dozens of huge items I want to accomplish, but I know I can’t do it all at once. Set a realistic strategy for your business and communicate it to everyone involved.
Second, stay organized. The easiest way to burnout, for me, is to feel unclear about what I’m working on in any given moment. When I struggle to stay organized and focused on the most important task, I create lists. To-do lists are helpful though often I need more detail. I write three columns, A) Must-do to operate, B) Will make money, and C) Something fun I want to do. I organize the tasks into these categories. It becomes clear very quickly that I need to prioritize A & B, though column C is important for my overall energy and trajectory in building a company I love.
Third, surround yourself with people smarter than you. The reason this helps me diffuse burnout is that I know I am not alone. Very successful seven and eight figure entrepreneurs made all of the same types of mistakes I did in the beginning. Embracing a spirit of humility and learning from the best will help you realize even the best burnout.
You will get overwhelmed, and your employees will too at times. Be clear on the strategy, stay organized on the most important tasks, and surround yourself with smart people who will be sure to remind you that everyone goes through burnout.
What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry?
Andrea Javor: Find the most influential people in your category and collaborate with them. When I started Happily Better After I spent weeks looking at other Instagram accounts of more established and successful divorce coaches, feeling intimidated with major imposter syndrome. I remember thinking that there are so many other people out there already doing this really well, so where’s the space for me?
I flipped my imposter syndrome into genuine curiosity to learn and grow as much as possible by collaborating with the best in the industry. My advice is to show up every day ready to learn. Start to allow the learnings to become integrated as part of what you offer, and remember that no one will offer exactly the same as you do from your personal brand. Consistently show up, and show up as your authentic self with your authentic voice, and you will attract your ideal clients.
Can you help articulate why doing that is essential today?
Andrea Javor: Showing up authentically is absolutely essential because we live in the age of transparency. You have to be you unapologetically or your brand will be perceived as contrived, fake, or otherwise an imposter. Consumers and smart and know how to spot a fake. Don’t try to be anything, just be who you are and you will exude a personal brand that is irresistible to your ideal customers. I get the most engagement on my social media when I put my face on camera and talk about real things – like my recent breakup with my boyfriend. When I spend hours trying to write the perfect post, people scroll right by. Just be the real you, it’s essential in a highly visible world.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Andrea Javor: Many CEO’s and founders either under- or over-rotate on delegation and outsourcing. I have seen founders dig in and want control over every aspect of their business, burning out quickly on tedious tasks that could easily be outsourced to people more qualified. On the flip side, I have seen CEO’s rely too heavily on an outsourced model too quickly and easily lose control of their personal brand.
For a coach, someone who is deeply connected on a person level to clients, I cannot imagine outsourcing certain pieces of my business. Figuring out the balance of tasks and how to delegate requires time and experimentation with your team. My tip is to try your management model for a finite amount of time – perhaps 3 months? Be sure you’ve given the model a real chance to work, then sit down and evaluate the processes you have in place. What needs to be tweaked? What new projects have come up that you need to address? Build in the time for process evaluation and be willing to shift resources.
Ok fantastic. Thank you for those excellent insights, Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about How to Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur. The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy, and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills and celebrations. This might be intuitive, but I think it will be very useful to specifically articulate it. Can you describe to our readers why no matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will always have fairly dramatic highs and lows? Particularly, can you help explain why this is different from someone with a “regular job”?
Andrea Javor: When you work as an entrepreneur the buck stops and starts with you. When something goes well, it’s to your credit and glory. When something goes wrong, it’s your fault to bear. The beauty in being an entrepreneur is that you have to show up every day for your business and ride those highs and lows with grace and a resilient spirit.
Riding the highs and lows is critical and much different than working in a corporate role for an organization. As much as I have taken my corporate jobs seriously, I could never care at a soul level about my work the way I do for my own business. Feeling and caring at a soul level is what keeps your business humming along, so my perspective is to not only embrace the super highs and lowest lows, but to know that those swings are propelling my business ahead.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually high and excited as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
Andrea Javor: I had been working hard on figuring out how to get publicity for my brand to put myself out there in the media and gain more awareness. I took a course, I asked other experts, and I spent long, frustrating hours writing pitches that went completely unanswered. After dozens of a pitches, I finally heard back from a local TV station who said flatly that they were not interested. On the same day, I received a note back from a print publication confirming they wanted to pick up my story. The highest of highs came when I had a new client cite the print article and say to me she wanted to work with me to get through her divorce based on what she read. It was truly a rewarding moment. And, as for that TV pitch rejection, I take that as a huge win since most TV stations never respond!
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually low, and vulnerable as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
Andrea Javor: In the publicity and media course, there is another divorce coach in the program who ironically has the same first name as me. She has been killing it! She’s done several TV interviews and has been markedly more successful in her pitching. I felt like for the entire eight-week course I was completely overshadowed and living in darkness in the wake of her success. I felt embarrassed, less than, and almost thought I should just give up.
I needed to take a critical look at my imposter syndrome. Instead of feeling overshadowed, I realized that I don’t live in the shadow of what she’s doing outside of this program. There are so many women out there who need divorce coaches and what she offers is completely different than what I do. I think many people fall prey to imposter syndrome in personal branding businesses. Remember there is no one out there exactly like you, so keep at it! I am happy to say I am finding my own wins, and every time the other Andrea has a win, I celebrate with her!
Based on your experience can you tell us what you did to bounce back?
Andrea Javor: I had a significant epiphany towards the end of our course when a mentor of mine said to me that my ideal press opportunities are yet to come. The opportunities this other coach has received are right for her, and I’m being shown a different path. It could not be truer! I have also collaborated with the other coach and she is completely fabulous and also completely different than me. There truly is no competition in any category, no matter how many others are out there doing the “same thing” you are. Again, you are the only person who can offer what you’re putting out there, everyone else is available to enhance your efforts and help you grow!
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur”? Please share a story or an example for each.
Look at your glass as refillable, rather than half empty or half full. Some days you’ll feel like you can only see the glass as half empty, other days it’s clearly half full. The mindset shift you need is to stop evaluating the current water level and remember your glass as an entrepreneur is forever refillable. Focus on riding the highs and lows by knowing that the setbacks, as well as the wins, are temporary. You will never go thirsty in your business with this simple mindset hack to see the glass as refillable!
Focus on the concept of H.O.P.E.: Help One Person Everyday. I learned this from a mentor, Jenn Gottlieb, who coined this phrase as a way to remember that while being an entrepreneur can feel isolating, we’re all in this world in service of one another. You will not succeed without the help of others, and others will want to help you when you put a spirit of service out into the world. You will temper the highs and lows when you’re in community and in service of others. When I’m at an impasse in my business, I think about who else I can serve. Ask yourself today, what is my H.O.P.E. practice?
Move your body every single day. This is a simple practice yet many people struggle with it routinely. Your to-do list is insane as an entrepreneur and you will feel as though there is never enough time in the day to accomplish all of the things you want to do. Keep your endorphins high and your stress low by incorporating movement every day into your routine. I have struggled with my weight my entire adult life, so for me, this is particularly helpful. Hop on the treadmill while you listen to Clubhouse; walk around the block with your favorite podcast; clear your mind and go to a yoga class. Prioritize movement as a sacred part of your daily routine.
You can’t do the WHAT effectively without an authentic HOW. Think about your WHAT in concrete terms: Your website, your email list, your social media, your keynote outlines, the nurture sequence you use for client prospects. Those are all concrete examples of your WHAT. You have to do the WHAT to get things done in your business; and WHAT you do is very important. Equally critical is HOW you do all these “WHATS” in your business. The HOW includes the softer skills including taking care of yourself as you work hard, infusing your authentic personality into your business, and operating with a spirit of service to all those around you. Your HOW needs to be woven into the fabric of everything you do. Do you get a little feisty when an event planner says no to your keynote proposal? Do your social media posts feel robotic and forced instead of natural and transparent? Are you working nonstop without taking mental health breaks every day to keep your emotional health in check? You need a positive HOW to emit the right vibes out in the world that will attract people to your business.
Plan to change your plans. I have done many things in the wrong order and learned along the way in my business. Sometimes I strike gold, sometimes I come up empty handed. You’ll drive yourself crazy trying to formulate your success precisely according to how you think your business will unfold. Instead of creating frustration for yourself, truly listen to your customers, absorb feedback and a spirit of constant learning and growing. You will still need sacred strategies to stick with long term until you see results, however, know that not everything will work and you need to plan on changing plans.
We are living during challenging times and resilience is critical during times like these. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
Andrea Javor: Resilience is simply the ability to believe in oneself more than not. In the simplest terms I feel resilient because I know that in the core of my being that I will be successful in whatever I do in this world, it just may not look exactly as I thought it would. I believe in me more than I don’t believe in me. It’s that simple.
The traits and characteristics of a resilient person are faith, hope, and gratitude. I have faith in myself and the network of people surrounding me. I hope for the best and roll with each day. I am grateful for what I have, just as much as I’m grateful for the challenges I’ve avoided in my business.
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Would you mind sharing a story?
Andrea Javor: I actually had to change schools every year between 7th and 11th grade – yes, five schools in five years! My dad’s job changed often during my formative years and it sent me to different schools. As hard as it was at the time, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I learned how to be a good judge of character early in life. I learned how to make friends. I learned that no matter where I went during the day to school, my mom, dad, and two brothers were always there when I got home. We moved as a unit; it wasn’t always perfect but all five of us got through it. Resiliency to me is in rolling with the changes in life we cannot control – like moving homes, cities, and schools as a young adult – and making the very best of the situation anyway
In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?
Andrea Javor: Calling on a positive attitude during any difficult situation is a lesson in grace, humility, and resilience. We’re in this world dealing with so much love and so much pain in our lives. No one can escape the pain of the human experience. I think those who can channel a positive attitude most of the time just get through life a little easier than those who marinate in negativity.
For me, channeling positivity most of the time means just that – if I look at an average week and can truly report that 80% of the time I felt positive, that’s a win. No one can be positive 100% of the time, it’s just not realistic. I also think that something that helps me remain positive in my business is my willingness to accept that negative feelings are part of the growth process. Sometimes we’re given challenges so that we can work through to better outcomes in life – if everything were easy all the time, we wouldn’t grow. My secret to positivity is accepting that negativity is perfectly normal and part of personal growth.
Can you help articulate why a leader’s positive attitude can have a positive impact both on their clients and their team? Please share a story or example if you can.
Andrea Javor: Positivity begets positivity. I work in the divorce space so I’m often working with clients who are going through the worst, most devastating time of their lives. I also collaborate with other divorce professionals who are mired down in client’s problems as well. Staying positive is one of the most important mindset hacks I use. It helps because no matter how many clients I work with in a given week, they each need me to show up as my very best self so they can keep moving forward and feeling better.
A trick I use for staying positive, especially in between client sessions, is to do a deep breathing meditation for 5 minutes before a call and 5 minutes after. I found out the hard way that back-to-back client calls are not a best practice and it’s critical for me to clear my mind so I can fully show up.
Ok. Super. We are nearly done. What is your favorite inspirational quote that motivates you to pursue greatness? Can you share a story about how it was relevant to you in your own life?
Andrea Javor: “Life is a balance between making it happen and letting it happen.” I love the sentiment behind this quote, especially as an entrepreneur. My natural tendencies are in getting things done quickly towards predictable and measured outcomes. In the corporate world, this made me incredibly successful. As an entrepreneur, I recognize the need to balance making things happen with letting things happen.
For example, I signed up for two competing programs to compare the methodology, spending thousands in online learning for basically the same lessons. I found myself losing sleep, stretched too thin and questioning how I would show up for my existing clients. I was trying way too hard to make it happen. I shifted perspective to instead put energy in the world to manifest the teachings and methodologies I need in order to just let it happen. I still work hard, I still am learning, but I am able to actually put the teachings in practice effortlessly because I don’t have so much pressure on myself.
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This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with
this. We wish you continued success and good health!