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Leading Ladies - Jessica Kalbarczyk

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Jessica Kalbarczyk really knows how to take the bull by the horns. I've admired her perseverance through these years as I've watch her take on these career and personal changes. As you'll read, she is right...each one of them made her stronger, more secure in herself and ready to take on the world. I'm happy to introduce you to Jessica and be sure to give her a shout on Twitter

HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START?

Basically I knew I wanted to get into PR as early as high school.  So I majored in communications and integrated marketing in college.  My early career started in PR.  I worked for various PR firms and landed a gig as a Communications Specialist in the Alumni Relations department at the University at Buffalo.  And that is where I started to fall in love with social media.  It was around 2007 when Twitter really came onto the scene.  After that I knew I wanted to take my PR background to the social media industry.  A few years later I made a MAJOR move from Buffalo, NY to Greenville, SC.  Two totally different places.  I landed my job with Samsung, managing their social media customer support sector.  I took some time off and began working for Furman University managing all of their social media.  I love being back on the marketing side.  And I really love working in higher education.  After 10+ years of finding "the one" I feel like I finally have.  

WHAT RISKS DID YOU TAKE?

When I first moved from NY to SC, I dabbled in being an entrepreneur.  I had my own agency and took on small work.   It was a huge risk to be in a new town, not knowing anyone and trying to make a name for myself.  I could have worked for a temp agency before I found a solid 9-5 but I worked on my personal brand during that time.  And that's when you really need to put yourself out there.  I learned A LOT during that time. 

WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT SCARES YOU?

Failure used to be my biggest fear.  It'll always be something in the back of my head, but I've learned to accept it.  Because everything I've failed at has brought me here and as cliche as it sounds...made me a stronger person.  So now my biggest failure is settling.  Settling for the status quo.  I've never been one to do that.  I'll see what others are doing and I'm determined to do it better. I want to always be different.  

LOOKING BACK ON YOUR CAREER, WHAT WAS A MAJOR TURNING POINT FOR YOU?

Deciding to leave the corporate world behind.  After leaving Samsung, I took some time off.  I worked at a local Starbucks and it felt good to leave the hustle and bustle. I come from a family that is blue collar and thrived on manual labor.  So that was something I needed, to be brought down a notch.  And I absolutely loved that time in my life.  It brought be back to my roots and who I am as a person.  

WHAT ARE THREE PIECES OF ADVICE YOU'VE RECEIVED THAT YOU'VE CARRIED WITH YOU THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER?

-Be the black sheep.  Not everyone will like you.  Not everyone will agree with you.  But those who are the black sheep, who have their own opinions, share their passions and never EVER give up...make it.  (And soon you'll find other black sheep who 'get you') 

-Conan O'Brien said this at the end of his last Tonight Show appearance:  "Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen."  I don't think that needs much explanation. 

-Another Conan reference.  He was on "Inside the Actors Studio" and was asked what his favorite turn-on is.  "Enthusiasm.  I think enthusiastic people can change the world"  Stay enthusiastic and as Steve Jobs said "stay hungry." 

BIGGEST MISTAKE?

Obsessing over people liking me and letting the haters get to me.  It's impossible.  I've accepted not everyone will like me, and some people may even hate me.   When you can let go of that notion, you'll feel so free.