Meet a Ladderburner: Jenny Knuth
Ladderburners have a unique way of looking at the world and take a different approach to advance in their career. After some time of feeling stuck and in a rut, Jenny stopped waiting for permission and put an end to using “busy” as an excuse. She shares:
“I began to trust myself and believed everything would work out. Simply slowing things down and following the synchronicities helped me craft a personalized and energizing workday.”
Keep reading to learn how Jenny brings Ladderburning to life and experiences greater meaning and purpose in her work in the process.
Q: Jenny, tell us about redesigning your work week. And, what does your ideal work day look like?
A: There were a lot of nuances and details that came into play here, but I’ll spare you from that novel and share that it started with me asking and answering some big, hard questions of myself. What did I want to experience on a daily basis from my work life? What were my dreams? What was holding me back?
Answering those questions took time and exploration. I’m a very visual thinker, so I journaled a lot and listed it all out in various ways. I still have the large easel-size notes covering my home office walls to remind me the little steps I take ripple out into the bigger picture and dreams I aspire for.
It didn’t happen overnight…
In fact, it was over a year that passed between making the call to reduce hours at my full-time job to give me space to explore my passions to where I’m at now – partnering with that amazing team and many other individuals to push ideas further and help make dreams in all of our businesses and lives happen.
It’s all still unfolding in great and unpredictable ways, and I’m absolutely experiencing a workday (most days) that energizes and inspires me. I’ve learned that kind of day includes some of the following:
- Easy access to various rituals to get into the zone or focus (getting moving, stretching, meditation or music, light a candle, journaling, a rejuvenating cup of tea, the list goes on…)
- Being in the comfort and flow of my home office with the option to add some novelty of new, different spaces
- Small breaks to walk the dogs, read, take some deep breaths, ground myself, and enjoy nature
- A flexible schedule without any 8-to-5 obligations which provides time to get the everyday things done with less stress AND space to imagine/dream.
- Last, but certainly not least, partnering with a mix of great people – for inspiration, feedback, co-creation.
Q: What do you credit for getting unstuck?
A: No one thing or one moment comes to mind. It was really a combination of many things: therapy and coaching, compassionate support from some kickass people and candor from thinking partners, a willingness to let go of control and be okay with not knowing what was going to happen.
Q: What role does work play in your overall identity?
A: It’s absolutely about fulfillment by connecting to a greater purpose and impact. In the past, I’d say it was about personal achievement with a big focus on my next steps. Now, though, my work truly feels like an extension of who I am. It provides the perfect mix of connection, collaboration, exploration, and creation.
Q: How do you define success at work?
A: Making a difference. Collaborating with people who care. Showing up as my whole, true self.
Q: Who is your go-to person or place for career and leadership advice?
A: Who – close friends and mentors (depends on the situation, I can’t name just one!)
Where – Books like Deep Work by Cal Newport, The Practice by Seth Godin, and Dare to Lead by Brene Brown & podcasts like Radical Candor, Work life with Adam Grant. I’m also active in a virtual leadership circle that provides supportive topics and conversation each month
Q: Who has been the most interesting and interested person you have known or worked with in your career so far?
A: Hands down, it’s Scott Kirkpatrick, a creative director at wisnet. He passed away unexpectedly in 2018 but his impact and mentoring are with me every day. Our collaborative work together taught me so much about creativity, branding, thinking bigger about the amazing potential of an idea –– as well as what it means to partner with someone who gives a F*** about people, the process, and the end result. Scott was someone who wouldn’t stop until an idea was done right, but would absolutely pause to acknowledge humanness and laugh – and let me tell you, Scott had the best laugh.
Q: If you could spray paint your top career advice for everyone to see, what would it say?
A: “Ask more questions.”
It took me about 8-10 years into my career to really get the power of questions to connect to people, present better ideas, and feel like I could show up wholly in the work I was doing.
Sometimes, we’re afraid to rock the boat or hear a hard response to what is being asked. Even so, it’s always been worth it in the long haul for me. My curiosity has sparked so much change around me and has helped break the waiting game I sometimes find myself in… waiting until I’m not as busy… or until I know more, waiting to be asked, waiting for the confidence or the courage.
Heck, I still need this reminder some days.
Total Years at work:
Want to share your Ladderburning story?
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- Learning Lab: Redefine Career Success3 min. read Many – if not most people – measure career success by how far up they’ve climbed the ladder. They measure it with “more.”