Jenny Garrett is an Award Winning Coach, Speaker and Trainer with over 12 years’ experience of running a Global Business. She is a Freeman of the Guild of Entrepreneurs – City of London and was listed in Brummell Magazines Top 30 City Innovators 2016.
Best known for her work empowering working women, particularly female breadwinners, with the skills that leaders of the future will need, Jenny reached an audience of over 30,000 through her speaking engagements, including two TEDx Talks, and coached individuals all over the globe from Australia, to Botswana, the US, Mexico, Spain and the UK, with over 4,000 coaching hours under her belt.
Her most recent clients include MasterCard, Ernst&Young, the NHS and the National Union of Students (NUS).
With regular appearances on Sky News and LBC radio, BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour, BBC Radio London & The Telegraph, Jenny focuses on self leadership and gives away a world of wisdom. In a recent interview on Linda Muyobo Talkshow Jenny advocates for Rocking Your Role by Developing Unshakeable Confidence.
We had the chance to meet Jenny this spring at Rich Vision‘s conference in London where she was teaching the audience how to discover the Remarkable You. We invited Jenny to share her story, a story of a woman who can’t stop giving.
Jenny never stops giving
Born in the early 1970’s to a 17-year-old mother in North West London. My father was not absent but didn’t live in the same house as me from when I was about 2 years old but was always available to me and visited on a regular basis. I wasn’t missing male role models; my mother has three brothers, all surrogate fathers at some point in my life. I had a grandfather who would show his love by letting me sit high on his shoulders while he walked with me to High Street.
At the age of 8 the best brother I could have wished came a long and my step father some time before that. I lived in council accommodation, starting off in an estate with flats twenty stories or so high.
I am not sure at which point in my childhood I became aware that it was me and Mum against the world, but I think I was still in single digits. I know from that point onwards I was fiercely independent, not wanting to burden my Mum with asking for things and definitely not demanding anything that cost money because I knew it was tough for us.
From the age of 14 I worked in a sweet shop on a Sunday morning to try the buy things I wanted. I would peruse catalogues in which you could pay £2 per week for items over a number of years and this is how I purchased new mirror doored wardrobes with a gold trim, and an abstract patterned foam sofa bed for my room which I was very proud of.
I held the ethos that I would need to work very hard to get anything I wanted and even then, there might never be enough money at the end of the month to cover the bills. This was not seen by me as negative, neither did I nor have I ever felt like a victim, it was just the way it was.
I did ok in school, studied A Levels and then went on to do a series of office jobs. I landed a job in marketing and decided to study in the evening for a degree in business. My Mum had paved the way she had studied for a degree and become a teacher while bringing up my brother and me. While studying and working full time, I also held a weekend call centre job. Life was busy, I saved money and at the age of 24 bought my first flat, I was on the ladder.
Since those early days, I completed my degree part time in the evening, got married, had my daughter, and held various jobs in the field of marketing. In early 2000’s I became interested in coaching thanks to a great friend, strong, inspiring and determined woman Dr Barbara Banda. Stumbling on coaching has been a major transformation in my life. A number of transformations took place from attending coaching programmes which encouraged me to be more self-aware, in particular a programme led by Dr Simon Western who was at the time at Lancaster University and also an e book that I read on living life in Abundance by Davide DeAngelis allowed me to change my attitude and relationship to money and life.
This change created space for me to encourage my husband who had been unhappy at work to seek opportunities more aligned with his values. He did this successfully and became a college lecturer. During which time my work took off as a Leadership coach and facilitator and I took a Masters degree in Management Learning and Leadership.
This shift and change is at the heart of me as a female breadwinner and the female breadwinner experience. My husband’s new role brought in less income and he was happier, my work took off and I was bringing in more income and was also happy. So why worry?
Well certain situations made me realise that I needed to worry…
- We never, ever, ever spoke about money. My husband never asked me for any and I never brought it up, it was the elephant in the room.
- Plus, I am not proud to say that my ego got the better of me, I’d make big decisions about our home without consulting him, because it was ‘my’ money
- I’d go to a restaurant with my husband and at the end of the meal, the waiter would always give the bill to him, of course. We’d awkwardly crack a joke about it being a birthday treat and never return, or sneak the credit card under the table
I realised that couples generally don’t want to discuss anything that could lead to an argument. The sensitive topics are in-laws, household chores and money. I see some of you nodding your heads knowingly. Unfortunately, these things need to be spoken about. Writing my book Rocking Your Role, which is a guide to success for female breadwinners, gave me the opportunity to really explore what it means to be a female breadwinner not just from my perspective, but from others too.
Did you know that a third of all the mums in the UK are earning the same or more than their partner, or are single parents? That’s more than 2.2 million, the population of Paris. The number of stay-at-home dads has also increased to 229,000 – the population of Aberdeen, Scotland’s third largest city.
I have now been married for almost 19 years and been the main earner for a major proportion of that time.
What inspired you to create your business or organization?
I began researching the topic of female breadwinners and I received a facebook message from a woman in the USA which said “I was the breadwinner for three years and those were dark days in my life” I decided that no woman should feel like that and that through research and my coaching expertise I could help. After my book was published women asked me for more, they wanted to continue their personal and professional development journey and embrace their role as breadwinner, this led me to use my skills in developing and designing learning and my coaching skills to create programmes and services to support them.
What problems are you solving?
The challenges of being a female breadwinner are many: dealing with societies assumptions around gender roles, such as a woman’s place being in the home, or thinking that women only work to top up the household income, rather than be the breadwinner, or that women who focus on their career are selfish.
And then there’s the emotions women feel, such as guilt for not being around at home as much, or feeling like they are stealing their partners role, or resentment that they have to be or have fallen into the role of breadwinner, or shame that their partner doesn’t or isn’t able to support them, or that they are not the one at the school gates, or that their home isn’t immaculate.
There is also the challenge for some that they feel that they are doing it all and being man and woman of the house, which can lead to stress and burnout.
Ultimately, I am helping women to celebrate their role as breadwinner, and learn how to make it work for them, which creates happier relationships which benefit us all.
How does it work?
After an initial diagnostic, I recommend the best approach, which could be: reading my book Rocking Your Role and working through the exercises on their own, engaging in my online programme ‘The Happenista project’ and joining our thriving and supportive online community, or having one to one coaching with me, where I take women through a 7 step programme, using my experience and coaching tools, covering areas:
- Empowering Choices
- Taking New Perspectives
- Ditching Guilt
- Positive Communication
- Knowing What to Stop, Start, & Continue Doing
- Reconnecting with your Joy
Some clients also opt to attend my 2 day retreat to refresh, renew and reimagine their future, they find the time away enables them to think more clearly and reconnect with what’s important to them.
Who are the people who could benefit?
Women who are or know that they will be the breadwinner in their home, whether as a single parent, or in a relationship.
Women who are trying to advance their career and whose income is critical to their family.
Women who are juggling caring responsibilities (whether children or elderly relatives) with a demanding career.
Women who feel burdened, exhausted or that they have lost who they are and want to reconnect with their bliss and joyful selves.
What are the challenges to make the public aware of your work?
The subject of being the female breadwinner is still taboo, women talk about many topics, but never about being the breadwinner. It is seen as impolite and they often want to protect their partners feelings, as a result it is difficult to identify women who are the breadwinner and they don’t come forward as they can feel embarrassment at their role in life. After all girls are sold the fairy tale of being rescued by a handsome prince, not that they can do the rescuing! In addition is some cultures there is an increase in domestic violence when women are the breadwinner, or it can even be viewed as sinful, so women keep it quiet about it.
Where do you turn for inspiration and why?
Books, podcasts, the arts and nature, all provide me with inspiration. I like to look for answers in unexpected places, when I am enjoying creativity, I find inspiration and answers just seem to flow from my sub conscious without me having to try too hard. The challenge is to capture my ideas before I forget them.
Who is one person you admire most and why?
I admire ex model and founder of Americas Next Top Model Tyra Banks, as she is unapologetically herself and not afraid to share her flaws and challenges. She reimagined her career and reinvented herself when she retired from modelling, becoming a successful entrepreneur. She is also an advocate for diversity and inclusion, which is close to my heart, she champions older models, plus size models and those with disabilities.