One of the best predictors of whether something will make us happy is to seek out others who have experienced what we seek.
This is true whether it’s small things like choosing what to order at dinner or big things like choosing our next step in our career according to Daniel Gilbert, who wrote the excellent book, Stumbling on Happiness.
We love to see how something worked for someone else and imagine whether it might work for us.
Because I’ve been focusing on Business Casual this Fall, I decided to do my case study with Jennifer Van Dijk, who is an accountant, female founder, solo- and mama-preneur. Jennifer was also part of my first Style Suites Master Class.
To discover how her new personal style has worked for her, I first asked whether she’d be willing to be profiled. In happy response, she gave me a huge long list!
Of course, it made me so so happy to know the class had such an impact for her. It’s also wonderful to hear that it hits so many of the points it’s designed to elucidate. More importantly, Jennifer’s progress has been amazing to witness and it’s been an honor to play even a small part in her transformation.
When I first talked with Jennifer, she was the mother of two little girls, stressed and worried about leaving corporate. While she wasn’t sure where her path would take her, she was brave enough to know she had to make a change. Now, she is standing strong, having transitioned from working for someone else as a consultant to starting her own consultancy. She is truly amazing!
Interview: Jennifer Van Dijk
1. How do you think your first impression ties into your success?The first impression I want to give is of an organized, approachable and boutique accountant. I think there is a certain amount of unconscious mirroring or aspiration in choosing an adviser in highly personal areas like money, personal style, parenting and health. I also think that I feel both grounded and confident in my wardrobe. It’s a confidence I get from feeling comfortable in my own skin and clothes as well as knowing I am in charge of the message I am projecting. I don’t think people are looking for a sexy accountant, but I think my ideal client appreciates beauty – be that a well-made purse or a nice vacation with family or the elegance of making a complex concept simple to understand.
2. What exactly do you do for your clients?I listen. I ask questions. And I try to get a full picture of the business & owner. In university working for a newspaper, I learned how to interview and answer the “5 W’s”. Later, as an auditor, my manager taught me to ask “Why” 5 times to understand a full story. This is my method. What I hope to do for clients is first that they feel listened to and get their questions answered to the best of my ability in a timely manner. I want to help them increase their financial knowledge in ways of their choosing. I want them to trust me enough to be a sounding board when they are making financial decisions in their business. And, finally, I want to integrate their systems as much as possible so their financial data (and money) flow as effortlessly as possible so they have the money and information they need.
3. You are focusing on female founders — why? Is this a growth market? What types of opportunities do you see here?This is muti-faceted and as much about the client as it is about me. My starting my own business is as much about my financial empowerment as a female in accounting and mother to two girls as it is about putting the power & knowledge into the hands of female founders. I think female business owners feel comfortable talking to me because I am walking in their shoes and have been the recipient of much of the negatives we’ve seen come to light with the “Me Too” movement.
4. What prompted you to decide to work on your personal style?When I signed up for the Style Suites Master Class, I was also considering executive management courses at a nearby business school. At the core, I was looking for knowledge that would strengthen my self-confidence & give me a network of people that would help me to decide what I wanted to do next in my career. I decided on the group style class and it was a key foundational component in how I have built a business. I know that it sounds like a stretch to expect so much out of clothing. For me, its about the power of feeling comfortable in my own skin and being in charge of what messages I am projecting out into the world.
This week and next, I am offering a series of free Facebook posts called “5 Days to your Financial Strategy & More Profit” to tell you which information you need about your business and how to get it into one place so you are ready to build a financial strategy for your business for 2019. You can already see the first 3 days at Van Dijk Accounting’s Facebook page.
How We Make It Happen
When you hear the call to step into the next stage in your life, it often comes at a point of transition.
For many of my clients, this transition is centered around having children — the need to be a model of possibility to your own progeny is deep and compelling. Whether you are working at a paid job or a full-time caregiver or something in-between, it doesn’t matter. It’s well-documented that women are capable of amazing things in service of others.
For Jennifer, the call was to show her own two young daughters what kind of woman she is. What might that call to service be for you?
- Hear the call. You know you’re capable of bigger things than you’re doing right now. It is not about doing more, but rather about taking on more responsibility. If you have children, you want to show them what kind of woman you are. If not, you’re ready to show the world who you were meant to be. Now is your time!
- How will you honor that call? In Jennifer’s case, she had all the leadership and practical knowledge she needed. What she lacked was the confidence — plus she needed to re-build her wardrobe after giving birth to two children. Those two factors dovetailed into working with me. Ask yourself: what is your strongest need? The answer, like Jennifer’s, can be both practical and aspirational.
- What’s the next step? Whether it’s entering my contest or joining Jennifer for her Facebook challenge, there are myriad ways to take your next step. You just need to decide which one — and take it! As Martin Luther King said, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”