1. What is your morning motivation to do great things?
As early as I can remember, I have had a difficult time waking up in the morning. I lay in bed as long as I possibly can with work and kid duties looming. I’m a night owl. My morning motivation is literally the obligations of both work and raising my two kids; both of which I love. If I could sleep in until 9:30am every day, I would. I tend to stay up very late. Coffee helps.
2. What is one thing you do to work towards a work/life balance?
I say no to both social and work events that I don’t enjoy attending or that conflict with family time. That ‘one thing’ allows me to focus on my personal life more, but finding a balance can be challenging. There are many incredible work events that I do enjoy and interesting people to meet and network with, but over the years, saying no has been crucial to maintaining a healthier balance. It frees up more time to exercise, to read a good book, and to spend time with family and friends.
3. Name one person who has inspired you in your career.
Ah, so many. I’m going to lump my parents into one person; I will call this person Mather. Mather had a challenging upbringing and taught me the importance of hard work and humility. I am the first person on either side of my family to obtain an undergraduate/graduate degree and Mather’s insistence and support when it came to education was crucial in getting Jenn Ewan me to where I am today. Mather is down to earth, hard-working, communicates well, is tolerant, and has a great sense of humor that I believe has served me well in my career so far.
4. Why did you decide to become a member of the Missoula Economic Partnership team?
I love working with people. As an attorney, I have had a non-traditional legal career thus far and when approached about coming on board at MEP, there was no job description to fill. MEP asked me what I could bring to the table and what I wanted to accomplish if I were to work there. I loved that. I like the freedom to pursue what I’m passionate about. While Missoula is an amazing place to live, often folks juggle multiple jobs to make ends meet and I wanted to find a way to attract ‘tech’ talent and ‘tech’ companies to the area to bring the median Missoulian wage up. I get to pursue both working with the private and public sector, using the private sector to help shape the educational institutions in the Missoula area to ensure the workforce produced is more relevant. I have been in-house counsel for two software companies and the job shortage in this particular area is enormous. From the one-man operation to the larger corporation, tech skills are needed, even if it isn’t what someone might think of as a tech job. I love working with innovative, motivated, game-changers with challenges I can help solve and working at MEP gives me the freedom to tackle both big and small challenges in this ever-changing space. It’s a happy job most days. Herding cats others, but these cats can be pretty fun.
5. What is one technological device or app you use that you could not live without?
6. What is your greatest strength as a leader?
My ability to connect with people.
7. What has been your biggest failure and how have you overcome it?
I have failed a lot in life. In relationships, at work, with friends, and with my kids at times, but I guess I don’t look at them as failures. I’ve hurt – I’ve hurt others – that’s life. The failures have led to my successes. How have I overcome them? Sometimes blindly; sometimes feeling sadness or anger and sometimes because someone amazing in my life let me know that I could get through it, or they literally came over and made me go for a walk to get me out of my funk. Rightly or wrongly, I believe everything happens for a reason, and so when I fail at something, I tell myself that it serves a purpose and that helps me get through it. I don’t think I have any gigantic failures.
I also self medicate and here’s my typical self-prepared solo ‘medication’ (please feel free to imagine other artists, bad food, and heart-wrenching movies):
Upon parking at home, I repeat some Gillian Welch song until I feel sad enough to walk inside; then……
1. I slip into a Pair of Granny Panties (AKA Period Panties)
2. I prepare 1-6 Foster Farms Corn Dogs (not the veggie kind) with plain mustard
3. I typically pop in one of these 2 movies: Brokeback Mountain or Evening
4. I assume the fetal position after I’ve had my fill of corn dogs
5. I cry a lot while often silently mouthing the words ‘why?’ or ‘when will this end?’
Optional: I walk to the fridge and grab a handful of chocolate chips from the produce drawer and on nights like this, I don’t even reseal the bag.
I always wake up the next day feeling happier.
8. What is success?
Improving the life of another. Being honest with myself and those who matter most to me. Living a meaningful life. Raising kids that are good people and who find out what they love in life and go after it.
9. Name one person who is a successful leader.
Max Baucus. He served Congress for 39 years and that in and of itself is measurable success. While his longevity is important, working for him for five and a half years made me admire him more. I didn’t always agree with Max on policy, but he exhaustively dove into each issue that he worked within and asked his staff to do the same. He was never flippant with his position and he was incredible at building the necessary bridges to move forward with challenging legislation. He truly cared about his job and I saw that over and over again. He has and continues to give his life to public service. I respect him a great deal and to me, a successful leader earns the respect of others, they never demand it and that is Max.
10. What is the one thing you do over and over and recommend to others?
Don’t apologize for how you feel. Ever. The expectations we have of others and that others have of us usually cause the most hardship in our lives. I struggle with this at times and continually try to improve in this area and talk about this with those I love; especially my kids.