ForCollegeForLife Podcast: Jasmine C. Williams, 22-23 Speaker of the Year


Casey J. Cornelius (00:06):

Hey everyone, and welcome to the latest episode of the ForCollegeForLife podcast. My name is Casey Cornelius, and I am the founder and president of ForCollegeForLife. And I am the host of the ForCollegeForLife Podcast. I get the opportunity to chat with our speakers and consultants, all the people who make us who we are, which is America’s leading college speaking agency. And today, I’m not gonna spend a lot of time on the intro because today I get the privilege to interview none other than our 2022-2023 Speaker of the Year. That is none other than Jasmine c Williams, Jasmine column on up to the microphone.

Jasmine C. Williams (00:49):

Hello. Hello.

Casey J. Cornelius (00:51):

How does it feel like we haven’t, we haven’t pressed record since you’ve been named Speaker of the Year. So how does it feel being introduced that way?

Jasmine C. Williams (01:02):

It feels it’s really special, and I think more so because it comes from my colleagues at our agency who I just deeply, deeply respect. And that means the whole world to me, coming from, from people who are doing this at the highest level and, and just great friends and great humans, it means everything.

Casey J. Cornelius (01:25):

You are so abundantly humble like you’re supposed to be, like, it feels good. And I get to be the first in line at dinner. And like all those things that you get with being the speaker of the year. Listen, I’m gonna pull back the curtain a little bit for those listening, by the way. Thank you for listening. Um, but we playfully is tease the right word, like we have a little fun at the speaker of the year title. It, it is earned, it is respected, but we also give just a little bit of teasing. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, am I right?

Jasmine C. Williams (01:55):

For sure.

Casey J. Cornelius (01:57):

Kinda like when Well, well, we have to, right? I mean, you’re, you’re on the catalog cover and you’re, you’re first on the website and all that other kind of stuff. That’s pretty cool. But I also know that you’re working on something extra special right now, which is you’re not resting on your laurels. You’re not just gonna stop with being Speaker of the Year. There’s new stuff on the horizon for 2023, 2024. And, and I’m just gonna kind of soft toss you this question. So I understand that you’re working on a new program, a new idea to help students, to help audiences across the country. You wanna talk a little bit about it?

Jasmine C. Williams (02:32):

I am so freaking excited about this because I think last year I launched my first new program in a long time. And my other programs, I had been doing them for years and years, know them like the back of my hand. And so to introduce something new last year felt really scary. And, and I wasn’t quite sure how people would receive it or how it, how it would land with audiences. And I think every time I got to do that program, I loved it more. And I even got some great tips and, and got to have some of our, for college for life colleagues sit in and listen to it and help me tweak it and adjust it. And now it’s one of my favorite programs to do. And the more that I kind of leaned into that mental health side of my programming, I got so much positive feedback, but also feedback. Like, we want more, we want more of this. This is exactly what our students need. This is exactly what we as students have been asking for, have been begging for. Like please give us more of this. So I’m excited about this program because it talks a little bit about something that I hint at in, in some of my other programs. So it’s, it’s going to be amazing and I, I can’t wait to share it with everyone.

Casey J. Cornelius (04:00):

So first of all, what Jasmine’s saying is absolutely true. You, you see, you see audience members almost lean forward throughout your programs. I I think you probably it love it, right? You

Jasmine C. Williams (04:13):

Probably, it’s the best

Casey J. Cornelius (04:13):

Moment exactly where they start in a particular posture. You know, they’re sitting back or sitting up appropriately mm-hmm. <affirmative> and then, and then just over time, every 15 minutes or so, it just seems like they’re, they’re getting closer <laugh>. They’re, they’re leaning forward and, and they’re responding to various elements of your program. And there’s one that you talk about and, and, and I’m, I want to give you the, the leeway, the space, the the here to, to get into it. And that is the relationship between small things kind of becoming big in our mind or, or in our worldview, right? Like when, when little things happen to us, us making them something significantly larger. Am I, am I putting that together the right way?

Jasmine C. Williams (04:57):

Spot on. Spot on. I think that’s all your yours. I think it’s such a good thing, not only for students, but also for staff and, and for all of us because we have this ability to kind of blow things out of proportion in our own minds. And sometimes I, to this day, I am guilty of doing this, but I will realize that I’m doing it and it’s like, why am I torturing myself like no one is doing it to me. Right? And I think it’s, it’s such a challenge for students in particular because you really, in college, those are some of your most formidable years of your life. And, and just in terms of brain development and the way that your habits shape who you are going to become and your mental health and the way you’re building healthy relationships and friendships, I think college is just such, it is the pinnacle time for, for all of that development. And if you don’t nip some of those bad habits in the bud, they will follow you forever. And this is one of the bad habits that I, I think it took me until my mid twenties to kind of start to actively unpack it. So I

Casey J. Cornelius (06:19):

Think one, there’s a little bit of, there’s a little bit of confession that’s going on here too. Isn’t Yeah, <laugh>

Jasmine C. Williams (06:22):

Always with me, right? Yeah. Underst understood. I can water, as my dad says, but <laugh>, um, yeah, I think it’s, it’s this sense of everything has to be big and, and like you said, Casey, you know, sometimes something small might happen, right? Like, let’s say you get a bad grade on a paper and, and small in the grand scheme of things. And instead of, oh, I didn’t get the best grade on this, I probably need to meet with my professor, or I probably need to put in a little bit more time next time for the next paper. Or even I need to get a tutor, or I need to ask my friend who got a good grade on this paper, what they, what approach they took, right? These papers, these small things in our lives, they all become very talkative for inanimate objects, right? And suddenly a bad grade on a paper is, I’m not smart enough, or I’m going to fail this class, I’m going to fail college, I’m not going to graduate, I’m never going to do anything with my life. I am not worthy. I’m never going to get a job. You know? And it just catastrophizes into this massive uphill battle. And most of those things for us can become self-fulfilling prophecies if we tell ourselves these same things over and over and over again. And part of what I’ll be talking about with this new program is how do we kind of get in there and interrupt that, that loop that keeps playing over and over again. And how do we swap that out for something different?

Casey J. Cornelius (08:07):

You know, first of all, this resonates so much with me because I, I think, I don’t want to use the term perfectionism. I, I, I think that that’s probably a little too broad, but I think anyone who is goal-oriented or, you know, striving for something that’s, that’s exceptional, um, th those setbacks seem like they’re <laugh>, they’re significantly harder to overcome. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, this also resonates with me for another reason. I don’t think I’ve shared this with you. So once I was, I was working with the college and they were, they were focusing on student retention, like overall student retention. And one of the things that they found, which was just shocking to me, was that there was a pretty significant percentage of students who ended up dropping all of their courses between the hours of like midnight and 5:00 AM Hmm. Like when they, when they looked at, when students dropped classes midnight to 5:00 AM and they couldn’t figure out what was going on. You know, they were conjecture, maybe they were, maybe they were drinking or, and what they ended up finding out Jasmine was these were students who did poorly out of, like you said, a a paper or a midterm or, or something like that. They just said, I’m, I’m never gonna be successful in college. I’m just gonna drop all of my classes.

Jasmine C. Williams (09:23):


Casey J. Cornelius (09:24):

They didn’t

Jasmine C. Williams (09:24):

Talk to, I’m out. I can’t do this. It’s too hard. They didn’t, they’re never gonna figure it

Casey J. Cornelius (09:28):

Out. They, they didn’t seek help, they didn’t seek counsel, any of those things. Do you, you’re almost like on the, on the individual level, delivering a message to that student who, you know, between midnight and 5:00 AM is, is having, having that moment, right?

Jasmine C. Williams (09:44):

Absolutely. And I, I was that student at the time, and I think that’s why it’s so special when I get to speak particularly about these programs that resonate with me so deeply, because I have had a student at every single speech who comes up to me and they’re like, oh, you get it, you get it because you weren’t just speaking from a place of understanding this topic, but, but you really have been in my shoes, and that’s why the actionable feedback and the things that you told me to do, I’m actually going to try, because I can tell that it really resonates with you as well, even as the speaker on a, on a deeper level. And I, I totally, I totally resonate with that. There, there come those middle of the night moments where it’s like, oh my gosh, I’m never gonna figure this out, and everything is horrible, and what am I doing? And I’m never gonna get a job. And everyone else is figuring it out. And I think the, the biggest thing, when you find yourself using certain words, those can kind of be clues. So anytime you use words like, nothing, everything, everyone, no one, no one understands me. I’ll never figure this out. I’m not going to ever be good enough. Right? Those, like all encompassing types of words are usually clues that you’re kind of wandering down this path and you might need to take a step back from it.

Casey J. Cornelius (11:17):

Dang, that, that’s like, it’s like a sledgehammer statement there. Like, as you were saying it, I was like, wow, I, I think we all do that, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative> like, I’m never gonna get this. I’m, I’m, I’m never gonna be any good at this. I, I can’t, uh, paint and I can’t <laugh>

Jasmine C. Williams (11:33):

Neither <laugh>

Casey J. Cornelius (11:34):

No artistic ability. Um, but, but those statements become absolutely limiting because then it shuts off any potential for growth, for, for, you know, error, for, for learning any of those things, right?

Jasmine C. Williams (11:48):

Right. I mean, how could I, how could I expect myself to figure something out? If I tell myself hundreds of times a week through my sort of daily thoughts, I’ll never be good enough. I’ll never figure this out. This is too hard. I’m not gonna graduate. Why should I even try? Like, why would I expect that that approach would work? You know? And when you kind of say it out loud, it’s like, okay, well that doesn’t, it doesn’t exactly make sense, but when those things happen, if instead you can kind of flip the script and focus on the smallest possible action. So instead of that all encompassing, I’m never gonna figure it out. This is too hard. I’m not gonna graduate. It becomes like a, the tiniest possible action that you can take. Can I talk to my professor at office hours? Can I meet with my advisor? Is it too late for me to change into a different class? Should I talk to my friend who’s in this class? Could I, you know, there’s so many different little things that we could try, but usually our, our gut instinct is to swing to the biggest thing possible. And that’s when, kind of like you’re saying, I think that’s when we see those students dropping in the middle of the night because they’re swinging to that worst case scenario that all encompassing, why should I even bother?

Casey J. Cornelius (13:13):

Folks, listen, there’s, there’s a reason she’s Speaker of the Year. I think you’re hearing it right now. If you have not yet checked out Jasmine Williams, first of all, what are you waiting for? But second of all, <laugh> visit, visit Jasmine, i, I wanna, something that I’ve been sort of nudging you on, and I, I think it’s part of what this new program is going to have. And I’m just curious, you have this reference in, in your programs, uh, about having like a, like an internal playlist going on, right? Like in, and in my mind, I immediately go to like the Spotify playlist mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, can you talk a little bit about, for, for the audience, uh, what you’re referencing there?

Jasmine C. Williams (13:57):

Yeah. I think all of us have this sort of default playlist, this soundtrack in your mind that plays on a loop over and over and over time, you know, we become conditioned in that way, right? So for example, if you have a favorite artist or a favorite playlist or favorite podcast, chances are you listen to those same people over and over and over again, and it just becomes habit after a while. And you start to memorize the words and you know exactly the flow and the tempo of all of these different songs. And it just becomes almost muscle memory. Like, have you ever, Casey, have you ever heard a song that was really popular when you were in like high school, even elementary school? And you’re like, how do I still know the word? Yes? Yes. Like it is automatic in your brain. And that sort of internal playlist is the same way.


And it’s the, the things that you say to yourself over and over and over again and again, that becomes muscle memory. So if what you’re saying on repeat is, I’m never going to graduate, I’m never going to be good enough. I’ll never figure this out. Everything is too hard. Everyone else has this figured out, but me, eventually you believe that because that’s what you keep telling yourself. And that’s why I’m so excited about this program. So we can kind of help students especially start to interrupt that, and how do we change the channel? How do we interrupt that negative loop that keeps playing and introduce some things that are more positive and may actually help us get to where we want to be by changing and, and listening to something different. And inside that sort of playlist in your own mind.

Casey J. Cornelius (15:47):

You know, I, I was referencing earlier that audience is, they, they, they end up leaning forward when you speak. And I have to say, every time you reference that idea, I, I’ve seen them go, oh yeah, I get it. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So I’m so happy. I’m so happy that you are amplifying that content, um, and, and, and putting, putting this, um, this whole structure around it. I’m, I’m so unbelievably happy. I know that this is going to be successful. Hey, just for fun, Jasmine, what is on your playlist? Like, what, what, what, who are your favorite artists? I’m just curious.

Jasmine C. Williams (16:26):

Well, no one that knows me would be surprised by this <laugh>, but I mean, I’m within three weeks of my Beyonce Renaissance tour dates at this point. So obviously that’s at the top of the list. We’re in mid-July right now of 2023. So if you’re a swifty, you know, speak now, Taylor’s version just came out, so that’s also ranking pretty high. But interestingly enough, I also have, I kind of alluded to this earlier. I have a, a throwback playlist of songs I grew up with my parents always listening to, or songs that came out when I was in elementary school. And I think it’s just really, it’s really special the way that art, especially music, can kind of take you back to a certain time in your life in that way.

Casey J. Cornelius (17:16):

I love it. I love it. Hey, by the way, Jasmine also mentions, you know, maybe you have a favorite podcast you listen to. Maybe it is the, ForCollegeForLife podcast. It better be <laugh> if it, it better it at least be on the list. If it is, would you please do us a couple of things. Would you please make sure that you like and share, and subscribe and review the podcast? All that’s very helpful. But would you also reach out to us and let us know what you want to hear on this podcast? And also let us know if maybe you want Jasmine to put together like a, like a Happy Day podcast listening, or I don’t like a, like a favorite songs that she listens to. Obviously Beyonce, Taylor Swift would be on there. I’m trying to figure out what you would’ve listened to when you were in elementary school, but I’m not gonna guess. I’m, I’m not gonna, I’m not gonna guess it.

Jasmine C. Williams (18:03):

Let’s not age me that much today.

Casey J. Cornelius (18:05):

<laugh>, same, same folks. Thank you so much for listening in. If you want to connect with Jasmine Williams, Jasmine, where’s the best place for them to find you?

Jasmine C. Williams (18:14):

Oh, well, you can connect with me, obviously, on, or I’m over on Instagram at msJasmineCWilliams,

Casey J. Cornelius (18:23):

Miss Jasmine, c Williams. Don’t forget to see if you do somebody else. Completely different <laugh>. Folks, thanks for tuning in today. We appreciate you. Please again, like share, subscribe, share this podcast. Rate us, review us, and let us know what you want to hear in the future. And until then be well. We look forward to our next time to chat.


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