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21 November 2018

Ep 38 – Jessica Powers – What The World Needs More of… LOVE!

Jairek Robbins

Guest: Jessica Powers

Age: 40 years old

Location: Brooklyn, NY

Bio: Jessica Powers launched her coaching and consulting company in 2011, and has worked as an organizational development consultant, coach, and learning strategist since 2007. She has worked with many industries, including media, technology, entertainment, energy, international development, and financial services. Before entering the organizational development field, she worked in film and music production, and as a fundraiser and event producer for the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Jessica believes that big thinking, joy, meaning, and intimate connection fuels business growth, and that careers can be wildly successful, fun, and healthy. She works with leaders to identify the people practices that will have the most impact on the organization’s culture, team effectiveness, and business growth. Jessica has a Masters Degree in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Oberlin College.  Some of her favorite things: meandering Brooklyn neighborhoods, talking to strangers, grocery shopping, dance breaks, and floating.

What The World Needs More of: 

1. Love

2. Letting Go

3. Unconstructed time

WOW factor: I have a warm, dynamic, and open conversations with just about anyone. I love talking to strangers and hearing stories about peoples’ lives, longing, love, struggles, and what matters to them. I am comfortable talking with anyone – from old friends to new friends to total strangers if it feels right. I think that people sense my curiosity and lack of judgement.

Favorite Color: Blue

Interesting facts that few people know: I grew up in a family that was curious about people – especially my grandma. She alway asks questions and waits for answers. Spending time with her always meant eating grapes, rubbing her feet, and looking through her papers, journals, photographs. She also had letters, which she found between her father (my great grandfather, Morris) and her grandfather (my great-great grandfather, David) between America and Lithuania. I saw the inner lives of people who I never met, but were so real. I want to always know and care about what matters to people – not the mundane routine minutiae of life – but what we yearn for, what we struggle against, what we overcome, what we cannot overcome, what gives us a sense of awe. My grandfather, who died over 20 years ago, was a ham radio operator, and he collected postcards from people all over the world who he connected with – including a kings or two. I always had the exciting feeling that we could connect to people anywhere in the world, and that people want to be known. One example of how that translated for me – I’d write papers in college and dial 411 to talk to people I was writing about, and had conversations with them. Everyone felt accessible and important. Reading Anne Frank’s diary when I was young had a big impression on me. As a third grader, I knew this person sharing her intimate thoughts was alive and dynamic, but also dead. I went to a high school on a farm in Vermont for one semester – The Mountain School. Every Friday in English class was awesome. We’d turn off the lights, and our English teacher would read snippets of everyone’s journals to the class, anonymously. It was fascinating and so intimate to know the inner lives of my classmates, and to not know their particular musings, but to know that they all had these interior lives and vulnerabilities that they don’t always display. Living in an apartment building on the upper east side with some very strange neighbors (cantaloupe thrown at my door, police coming into my apartment to get inside my neighbor’s apartment through my fire escape, neighbor with pet pigeon) where I didn’t want to be friendly with anyone, to living in a building now where I love my neighbors, have them over, they have me over, they’ve helped me get stitches, talked through relationship ups and downs. I love my neighbors, and this is how I want neighbors to be in this modern world. Getting laid of from a job, and suddenly walking around Manhattan at 11AM, 3PM, and wondering what all these people sitting in cafes and walking the streets were doing. Who were they? How did they get here? Did they not have jobs? How could they afford their mid morning lattes? What interesting things are they doing with their lives? So I set out to talk to strangers on purpose once a week for a while, and I talked to a ping pong champion, street cleaner, traveling the world couple, a sober dog walker, and a nightclub manager who lived in my great grandpa Morris’s old building on Henry Street in what is now Chinatown. We are all so fascinating, connected, different, and also – the same – in our desire for love, meaning, mastery, and pleasure. I also hosted a dinner party series with friends that was so fun and intimate and stimulating – getting to what impacted my guest’s lives. Every person played a character that was a source of inspiration for one dinner guest, so we all got to know each other in a creative way.

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