ForCollegeForLife Podcast Ep. 20: Jessica Gendron Williams


Casey J. Cornelius (00:07):

Hey everyone. And welcome to the latest episode of the ForCollegeForLife podcast. My name is Casey Cornelius. I am the founder and president of ForCollegeForLife, and I also get the distinct privilege of getting to interview the people who make us great, our speakers, our consultants and learn more about their journeys and their signature programs and the stuff that makes them who they are. It has been so fun, not only going through the process of introducing you to all of our speakers, but also hearing your feedback about the episodes that you’ve enjoyed, the fun facts that you didn’t know about these folks. I, I’m still learning. I, I, I reference this from time to time, but even though I I’ve known many of our folks for years and years and years through the course of this interview, I always seem to learn more about them that I ever anticipated.

Casey J. Cornelius (01:01):

I’m sure today will be no different. Many of, you know, this person, many of you have followed them in their journey for, for years. But I think probably you’ll still enjoy hearing from ’em. Let me do a little background with over 15 years experience working in leadership development and coaching human resource consulting, business leadership and fraternities and sororities. Jessica is a respected and sought out speaker for campus communities and national organizations, Jessica gender and Williams is the president of the center for leadership excellence. She has spent most of her career coaching women and individuals to grow and thrive professionally, but more than anything, she is a fierce advocate for advancing women in the workplace ended leadership. She has been recognized by the Indianapolis business journal with the prestigious 40 under 40 award. And in 2018 was honored for her contributions to the fraternity and sorority community with the Jack L Sen award from the association of fraternity and sorority advisors. She received a BA from Eastern Illinois university and an Ms. And education from Indiana university Bloomington. And without any further ado, let me go ahead and bring to the mic. None other than Jessica gender and Williams Jessica. Hello? Did I, did I get all that prestigious stuff? Right? Did, did I, did I do okay. There

Jessica Gendron Williams (02:18):

Feels excessive, but yes, it’s, it’s accurate. It’s

Casey J. Cornelius (02:21):

Accurate stop, stop being so excessive in all the great things that you’re doing. How about that?

Jessica Gendron Williams (02:26):

Yeah. I, I mean the I’ve been going to work out with a trainer lately and he said to me, one day, he’s like, man, you don’t have a medium. And I was like, what? And he goes, you either are a hundred percent or you’re 0%. And I was like, yeah, nobody’s ever put it that way, but that’s totally a hundred percent who I am. So yes, I don’t, I don’t have a medium,

Casey J. Cornelius (02:50):

You know, I, I suppose it’s a little bit of a blessing and a curse and I, I’m probably a little guilty of this myself. Like I don’t, I don’t have a dimmer switch. Right. Like either it’s either it’s on or it’s off, there’s no sort of like mood lighting in between. Yeah. You, you have a lot on your plate though.

Jessica Gendron Williams (03:06):

Yeah. You know, just casual, casual, everyday things.

Casey J. Cornelius (03:11):

Well, let’s start with some of the fun stuff. Okay. Okay. So

Jessica Gendron Williams (03:14):


Casey J. Cornelius (03:14):

You are the president of the center for leadership excellence in Indianapolis, Indiana. I should probably acknowledge that real quick. Can you talk a little bit about what you do in that role?

Jessica Gendron Williams (03:26):

Oh well the center for leadership excellence, we focus on being leadership experts and culture strategists. And so what that looks like in actual practices, we work with corporate clients and individuals in the business world on leadership, coaching and training. And then we consult and do research for companies on culture. You know, I think for me, it’s really important that people can go to work at a place that is respectful and inclusive and safe for them. And so the culture piece is really important to me. And so I it’s, we’re clearly enjoy, I get to take all the pieces of what I loved about working in the higher education space and sort of dump it into, into the corporate space, just an older age group, I think. So my day to day role is, you know, leading the company, but also I spend a lot of time in our training and curriculum writing and meeting with our corporate clients and building relationships in, in Indianapolis and sort of beyond. So it’s fun. It’s I feel like it’s my same job. Just a different group of people

Casey J. Cornelius (04:38):

It’s seems to me. And, and you can tell me if I’m, if I’m close on this, it seems to me that the best companies, the best corporations were focused on culture all along, but maybe over the last few years, it has become more important especially with some of the, the stresses and strains in the workplace. For that focus on culture to be top of mind. Are, are you, are you sensing that as well?

Jessica Gendron Williams (05:05):

Yeah. I mean the, the labor market is so competitive right now for talent that the culture piece is now becoming a deciding factor for where people choose to go to work. And so organizations that are doing it well are really shining right now and organizations that aren’t doing it well are trying to catch up. And it’s, it’s a challenge because culture, isn’t a quick fix. It’s not something you can just snap your fingers and put some snacks in a coffee room and expect it to be different. It’s, it’s a very long arc of change. And so you see that in, in a really big way in, in the labor market right now.

Casey J. Cornelius (05:48):

So what you’re saying is there’s no amount of like ping pong tables or anything like that. That’s gonna fix a bad culture. That’s, it’s just not, there’s not a quick

Jessica Gendron Williams (05:54):

Fix to that. No, I actually just had lunch with a client and we talked for probably 30 to 40 minutes about culture. And it’s so much more than just snacks in a break room. And half day Fridays, you know, it’s, it’s such an intentional effort. That’s focused on making the people that work for you lives better. And, and to be in alignment with what you say you’re about and to put intentional thought behind the decisions that you make to ensure that everything that you do and everything that you decide is in alignment with what you say you’re about. And that takes a lot of extra work for companies. And some companies are really intentional and really committed to it. And some of them it’s, it’s just a lot of extra work and it slows them down and they don’t wanna think about it.

Casey J. Cornelius (06:47):

You know, I’m, I’m not sure if I in planned for our conversation to go this way, but I wonder if the same can be true socially for those who are listening, who are members of college student organizations and so forth. If, if the same lesson is true for those organizations as well, that, that culture’s not something that just happens overnight or that perpetuates itself, you know, for time eternal. Right. So what might have been true five years ago might be completely different five days ago. Oh yeah. Would you give the same advice to them? Like you ha you have to focus on these things all the time.

Jessica Gendron Williams (07:18):

Yeah. I mean, every organization has a culture. The, the question is, did you intentionally curate that culture or did the culture create itself? And, and I think that that’s, that’s the challenge and the risk is if you’re not creating the culture and curating it intentionally, it’s creating itself. And it’s probably creating itself around the easiest, lowest, common denominator, things, not the highest ideals. And so that’s the, that’s the risk. And I think particularly in the college space those lower common denominator ideals are, are things that we probably don’t want creeping into our organizations. And so you have to be really intentional about that stuff and, and think about the alignment and think about it in your decision making and how you hold people accountable and who you elect as leaders and the organizations that you partner with and the events that you do and what they say about who you are and what you care about. All of that stuff has to be in alignment, cuz otherwise it’ll, it’ll find ways to connect itself to other stuff.

Casey J. Cornelius (08:32):

You know, every once in a while, there’s a moment where I’m, I’m fairly certain that the, the sound bite for the episode is going to occur. And that, that might have been the sound bite. I don’t know. Let’s see. Let’s see. We, we still got some time.

Jessica Gendron Williams (08:44):

I got lots of good nuggets. Just I know, buckle up buttercup.

Casey J. Cornelius (08:47):

I know there you go. Only a few people in this world call me buttercup and I smile and, and Jess is one of them. So we we’ve talked about, you know, you, you being busy and having all these, these things on your plate, but also I know that you’re also intentional and reflective and also have a desire to, to translate experiences from one thing to another. So, so let me ask you this, you know, being a female CEO, business, owner, wife, mom, all that other kind of stuff. What has that taught you about leadership?

Jessica Gendron Williams (09:22):

Gosh, I feel like there’s a hundred lessons in there and I think for me, what, what has driven me professionally for so long is I grew up as a kid low socioeconomic status, first generation college student you know, not a lot of access to a lot of resources to make me successful as a kid. And so I was always the underdog. I went to a private school. I went to a private school on a financial scholarship. So I was surrounded by kids who had lot, a lot more access and resource than I did. And so I was always in this position of trying to prove myself and trying to show that I was just as good as them, no matter what. And so in that I developed this I’ll show you kind of attitude about everything that I did, which might be why I’m zero or a hundred percent.

Jessica Gendron Williams (10:25):

But I sort of have this, this, this thing about me that if somebody tells me I can’t do something or if something seems impossible, I wanna do it. And I wanna show people that I can do it and prove them wrong for good, for bad, for whatever, but that’s just sort of a big piece of who I am. And so when I went into college for the first time in my life, I had a lot of people telling me I could be anything that I wanted. I didn’t, I had a lot of people supporting me and encouraging me and loving me and bringing out the best in who I was and sort of got this appetite for wanting to lead and wanting to be a businesswoman and wanting to own a business and wanting to be a leader. And that is driven so much of who I am.

Jessica Gendron Williams (11:22):

But for me, I think being a female and being a leader seemed so easy in college, but the minute I stepped out of college, it didn’t seem easy anymore. And it wasn’t until I started working a lot in the corporate space that I started to realize that all the frustrations and experiences that I was having were because I was female male, and maybe not, because of all these other excuses I had made for those things. And so for me, I, I became really passionate about ensuring that the women that came after me didn’t have those experiences and maybe didn’t encounter the roadblocks that I did on their path to leadership.

Jessica Gendron Williams (12:12):

And I look back at, you know, that whole experience. And I think about all of the stuff that I went through to get to where I am, and it’s not a straight line. I think that’s probably a big lesson in leadership, everybody, whatever plan you have seems really good on paper, it’s garbage and it’s only going to be good for about six months and then you’re gonna have to reevaluate because no path is linear. Nobody takes a straight line and the things that you might dream for yourself, it might take you on a winding road to get there, or your destination might change. And for me, that that’s, that’s true. You know, and I think along that winding road for me I discovered just how important it was to work hard. But also not let stuff get to you.

Jessica Gendron Williams (13:14):

I tell the, this story a lot in some of my keynotes I’ll give it away here for free for everybody. Here’s a taste. I was riding in an Uber one day with a, with a gentleman in Texas and we were talking about he mentored inner city youth, and we were talking about some of that work. He doess, I’m a court appointed special advocate. So I work with inner city youth who are in child abuse and neglect cases. And so we were talking a little bit about that work and I asked him, what’s a, a piece of advice he gives to the kids that he works with. And he said, oh, I tell them all the time, be a duck, not a chicken <laugh>. And I’m like, I’m, I’m not really drawing the connections here about what, why we would tell people to be a duck, not a chicken.

Jessica Gendron Williams (14:01):

So could you, could you clarify that for me? And he said, well, have you yet, have you ever dumped a bucket of water on a chicken? I was like, no, can’t say that I have, but he said, well, when you dump a bucket of water on a chicken, they look like a drown rat. They soak up all the water. It, it, it gets soaked up into their feathers and it weighs them down. I was like, okay. And he said, have you ever dumped a bucket of water on a duck? No, <laugh> <laugh>. He said well, when you dump a bucket of water on a duck, it just rolls right off their back. They don’t even look wet. And it was like, oh, it was like deep thoughts from your Uber driver, you know, just should be a whole series. But you know, just this moment of there’s so much that happens in life that we get to make a choice about if we’re gonna be a duck or a chicken, if we’re gonna let it, if we’re gonna soak it up and let it weigh us down, or if we’re gonna let it roll right off our back.

Jessica Gendron Williams (14:59):

And I think one of the things that’s made me successful in my life is that maybe I was too naive to notice. Maybe, maybe I was really good at izing, or maybe I made a conscious choice. I’m not sure, but I, I let stuff roll off my back. I didn’t let it weigh me down. And I think that that’s a big piece of what makes you successful as a leader because there’s always critics. There’s people who always hate things that you do, no matter how hard you try and there’s, there’s always something that’s gonna go wrong that you didn’t intend to go wrong because we’re human beings. And we have to make a choice about whether we let it soak up in our lives and weigh us down. Or if we let it just roll off our back and keep moving, you know, so for me and I that’s totally true in parenthood too. You’re like, oh, like right kid I spent 12 hours smoking this Turkey breast for Thanksgiving and my daughter took one bite and she goes, who made this? It’s disgusting.

Casey J. Cornelius (16:10):


Jessica Gendron Williams (16:10):

So, you know, you’re like roll off your back, let it happen. Cuz there’s always a critic,

Casey J. Cornelius (16:17):

So, and it doesn’t matter. And it doesn’t matter how many awards you’ve won. No <laugh> that sort of rest is

Jessica Gendron Williams (16:24):

No, my daughter doesn’t my daughter doesn’t understand even what most of those plaques are sitting up on the bookshelf in her bedroom. Like why do you have all these glass things up there? Mommy? Oh, somebody thinks I’m cool. So to go back to your question, Casey you know, so for me it’s always been about let it roll off your back. You know, just, and I’ve always had this sort of like I’ll show you type of attitude when it, when it comes to leadership, because that’s the, that’s, there’s so much of this stuff that, that I’ve been through is, well, I’m not gonna, I’m not gonna lose. So

Casey J. Cornelius (17:08):

If you’re for

Jessica Gendron Williams (17:08):

Good or for

Casey J. Cornelius (17:09):

Bad, if you’re just learning about Jessica I I’m, I’m gonna, I’m gonna call her Jess. Everybody calls her Jess. You can call her Jess now, too. Yeah. If you’re just learning about Jess please make sure that you check out for college for Learn more about her signature programs, the work that she does, keynotes workshops, retreats, all the other kind of fun stuff. I wanna unpack a couple of things that you said in that answer. Other than the private school thing, you and I have a very similar origin story.

Jessica Gendron Williams (17:41):


Casey J. Cornelius (17:42):

Yeah. You know, working class families first gen to go to college a whole lot of I’ll show you embedded in, in the journey as well. And I think that, you know, one of the realizations that, that I’ve come to over the years is that we, we are all sort of operating on different frequencies. And when you interact with people who, who have a similar frequency to you, like, it sounds different. You’re like, oh yeah, that, that I get that person because we’re kind of along this same frequency. Yeah. And I’ve always found that new. And I think it’s, it’s one of the things that I always admired about you. And before we got to work together, probably I found a little intimidating too, because there’s that like, you can’t beat me with, with you. And I kind of have the same thing and I’m like, oh shit, something has to give. Right. So when when we had the opportunity to work together, it was just like, I knew I had to up my game because we operate on the same frequency. And I know that you’re like, Hey, you can’t, you can’t bring a C to this, you, this, this has to be a work.

Jessica Gendron Williams (18:45):


Casey J. Cornelius (18:45):

But there’s something else. There’s something else that you said, you, you talked about going to college and finding people who encouraged you and finding people who, who championed you and you and another member of our team have a, a common point along their journeys. You’re, you’re in their journeys. And that’s Bob Alki and it would, it would be wrong if I ask you that I know he is listening. I know he is. It would be wrong for me to not ask you about the moment that that Bob sort of helped you change the trajectory of where you were going to.

Jessica Gendron Williams (19:21):

Oh yeah. Have I told you this story before Casey? I think I have.

Casey J. Cornelius (19:27):

I know, I know. And I’ve heard it from Bob too, but I, I just, I wanted to share it. Yeah. Yeah.

Jessica Gendron Williams (19:32):

So you may not know the origin story of why I came crying into his office though. So I went to Illinois uni. I don’t, I went to external Illinois university. I majored in graphic design. I wanted to be a graphic designer. I loved art. I was talented. I loved the classes. I loved the work. I really wanted to be a graphic designer. Somewhere along my, my freshman year, I went to a, what was AFL V. It used to be called M GCA. I went to M GCA because nobody in my chapter wanted to go cuz we were a bunch of yahoos. And I fell in love with leadership. So that’s how I got plugged into the fraternity and sorority community at Eastern Illinois while I was simultaneously an art student, which the two did not coach very frequently together.

Jessica Gendron Williams (20:28):

I’ll say that. So you know, I sort of put myself as the oddball out. I’m, I’m really good at that. Like I’m gonna do the things that nobody will do together. So my junior year might have been my senior year. I cannot recall. I was sexually harassed by a professor in the graphic design program myself and another student. Who’s a good friend of mine and we went to the Dean of the college and reported it. And the Dean said, sorry, there’s nothing we can do. He’s tenure. And I soured really fast on graphic design and art and all of those things that I loved deeply and dearly and thought I was gonna do for the rest of my life. And so started to come to terms with the fact that maybe I wasn’t destined to be a graphic designer, but I’m also at the end of my college experience.

Jessica Gendron Williams (21:33):

And my parents are definitely not gonna give me any money. Cuz I paid for college for myself. So I plopped down in Bob’s office and was crying and was like, I don’t know what I’m gonna do with my life. I don’t wanna be a graphic designer anymore. I’m gonna graduate soon. And it was almost, almost like Bob was expecting this conversation to happen because he literally picked up a packet of paper that he had already printed and slid it casually across his desk to me. And it was an application to be a consultant for alpha Sigma and to work for my national sorority. And and then some information about higher ed programs to get a master’s degree. And we had this really lengthy conversation about what he felt like I could do for a living. And he altered the course of my life.

Jessica Gendron Williams (22:33):

I mean, that’s how I went to graduate school and that’s how I worked for a national sorority. And, and that’s how I ended up working on a college campus and speaking to fraternity and sorority people for a living for most of my career was because Bob was ready to have that conversation with me when I was in probably one of the hardest moments of my college experience. And I love that man dearly. He’s been such an important part of my journey since before that, that moment, but that is a critical tipping point in my life for sure.

Casey J. Cornelius (23:08):

I love it. I love it. He, you know, I said to him one time, I, I, I encouraged him to think about his, his family tree a little bit of which you are a member of mm-hmm <affirmative> Q as a member of, but there’s so many folks who have stories like that. And it it’s, it’s always inspired to me. I, I did not know the origin of why he came to his office that day. But it also doesn’t surprise me that he was ready to have the conversation with you. That’s a, that’s a really, that’s a cool thing for sure.

Jessica Gendron Williams (23:38):

Yeah. Yep.

Casey J. Cornelius (23:40):

You know, anyone who knows you anyone who’s been following you is probably wondering what the heck is taking me so long to ask this question

Jessica Gendron Williams (23:50):


Casey J. Cornelius (23:51):

But it is like, I, I guess we’ve gotten to the point where, where I’m gonna ask you about you know, how, how your life changed in, in 2021. You were diagnosed with breast cancer and I, I, I know you’ve shared very openly and, and publicly the journey the, the path toward living with and recovering and beating and all the other kind of stuff. Do you want to talk a little bit about not only maybe the journey quickly, but also maybe most importantly, the things that you’ve learned along the way.

Jessica Gendron Williams (24:23):

Yeah. the, the journey is the journey, you know, there’s no, absolutely there’s no need to rehash sort of the, the experience. And to be honest, I’ve put most of that down. But but I think, you know, I, I say to people often that I wanna be able to talk about it and I wanna be able to share with people, not just what the experience was, but the lessons that I learned through the journey, because for me, if I’m gonna have breast cancer, and if I’m gonna walk out the other side of the treatment and the experience of it all, I want it to be forced something, you know, I don’t want it to be in vain. And I don’t wanna look back on that experience in my life and just say, oh, that was the year I had cancer. I want it to be meaningful and I want it to be worth something.

Jessica Gendron Williams (25:24):

And so that is the mentality that I took into the experience from the very beginning of if I’m gonna have cancer, I’m gonna make it worth it. You know, like I’m, I’m gonna learn something from this. And, you know, one of the things that I spent a lot of time on during the journey was focusing on keeping my mindset really positive and focus, focusing on taking good care of my mental wellness so that I could endure all of the really hard stuff that was happening to me. You know, I think one of the things that I’m scared for for this generation is how easy it is to hide and run away from problems because I don’t have to go to the grocery store. I can, I can order it delivered to my door. I don’t have to see that friend. I can, I can go to high school online.

Jessica Gendron Williams (26:20):

I, I don’t, and there’s so many ways for people to run and hide from the things that get really hard in our lives or the challenges that we face or the disagreements we have with friends or the encounters that we have. And it’s easy to ignore the fact that you have a cancer diagnosis. I’ve known lots of people that have been diagnosed with cancer and just ignore it. And you know, so it’s really easy to run away from that stuff. And, and it always catches back up with you. It, it doesn’t go away because you hide from it or you run away or you cer you try to circumvent it because it’ll always come back around. And so, you know, one of the things that I really learned through that journey is that the only way is through them, not around them, not avoid them, not ignore them, not pretend they don’t exist, but to step by step, keep walking through the hard stuff.

Jessica Gendron Williams (27:24):

Because what I have learned is that nothing is forever. And eventually you walk out the other side in a year, in five years in two months and two days. But the only way to get through the bad stuff is to, is to go through it. And so for me, I really spent a lot of time focusing on my mindset because I knew the only way to be done was to, to go through it and to go through it as fast as I possibly could. And so that’s what I focused on. And I learned a lot of really important lessons about how you find joy in the challenges and how you continue to keep a positive mindset and how you reframe everything in your life to, to stay positive, even when it’s really, really dark and really, really hard. And so for me, I think those are the lessons that I love to talk about and to share with people because they were so powerful for me and so important for me as I was walking through one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Now, I will say it is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but I hiked a mountain <laugh> and after my cancer treatment, and that was harder I’m gonna be really honest with you. It was, it was a lot harder. So there’s that.

Casey J. Cornelius (28:44):

So I think I was wrong before and I said, oh, that that’s probably the soundbite from this episode. I, I think, I think you just gave the soundbite about walking, walking through the hard stuff. Everyone who loves you respects you, I’m gonna say the same, the, the thing that I’m sure that they’re thinking to, I’m really glad you’re here.

Jessica Gendron Williams (29:03):


Casey J. Cornelius (29:04):

Casey. I’m really glad you’re here. I, I, I recall vividly getting the call from you where, you know, I, I thought we were just gonna have one of our normal conversations and chop it up a little bit. And and, and you share with me your diagnosis. And I remember being immediately scared and angry and wanting to be helpful to you and what I think I admire most about you, Jess is not your ability to walk through, but the fact that you shine light on things that are hard so that others can learn from them too. Like you, you make it okay for others to go through hard stuff also. Thanks. And, and you, and you work to equip them. And that is such a rare thing. It’s such a rare thing. If, if you wanna learn a little bit more about Jess again, and plug plug, I, I recognize for cultural life dot coms slash Jessica. One of the things that you talk about as well, and my guess is, has been challenged through this entire process is the idea of balance. And I think I, I’ve heard you say this kind of, kind of bluntly before. Look, you can’t have it all work, life balance, school, life balance, you know, all the, all the plates that you’re spending. Why do you, why do you care so much about this, this particular topic? Like, why are you passionate about it?

Jessica Gendron Williams (30:18):

Because I didn’t have it. You know, that’s one of the reasons that I left, I left my previous employer, cuz I didn’t, I didn’t have it. I didn’t have balance. And I was not able to prioritize the things that were the biggest priorities in my life. And for me, I think so much for so many of us, particularly people who are in college, who are the overachiever leadership types who say yes to everything. And also our friends that work in higher education. I think we get caught up in the saying yes, taking on extra work, doing things because we, we have a fear of missing out or because we don’t know how to tell people no. And all of a sudden other people’s priorities become our problem. And we’re miserable. We’re tired, we’re exhausted. We, we don’t have joy. We don’t have friends, we don’t have hobbies.

Jessica Gendron Williams (31:21):

We don’t get to do things that are fun. We’re, we’re spending our time on things that don’t feed us. And I was there. I, I felt that in such a real way, that it wasn’t until I learned how to get out and how to identify what my priorities were, set boundaries around those priorities and find the people just, and the things that support those things in my life that I started to live the life I wanted and still be able to work and have hobbies and have friends and do all the things that I wanted. And not feel guilty about saying no. Now let me tell you

Casey J. Cornelius (32:04):

One of those. I was just gonna, I was gonna ask you. Okay. So that word is funny that you use that. How do you do it not feel guilty?

Jessica Gendron Williams (32:12):

I always ask myself when I say no, or when I wanna say no, I ask myself, what do I gain by saying, no, I think so much of saying no is like, what am I giving up? But I flip it and ask myself, what do I gain if I say no? And I think that, that for me always feels better.

Jessica Gendron Williams (32:39):

When you say no to people you care about. I think that’s probably the hardest thing. And I, that, that is just about practice. That’s just about helping people understand what your priorities and your boundaries are and practicing saying no to the people you care about. And I got really lucky cuz I got cancer. So nobody was mad at me for saying no cause you know, like I have cancer. And it was like this running joke in my group of friends where they’d be like, Hey, let’s clean up before we go out tonight. And I’m like can I have cancer? Like it would just be like the running joke that like anytime there was something I didn’t wanna do, even if it was like cleaning up dinner, I would play the, I have cancer card. For, for the last year I can’t do that anymore.

Jessica Gendron Williams (33:29):

But it’s, it taught me through all of that practice. Just to be a better advocate for myself. And I think that that’s the thing that people don’t know how to do because we’re socialized to think that it’s bad to advocate for ourselves. You know, we’ll go to war for our friends and the people we love and care about we’ll bend over backwards. But when it comes to ourselves, we’ll like use ourselves as a doormat. And I think that that for me is the big piece of it is learning how to prioritize the things that are important to you and advocate for yourself with the same enthusiasm and fervor that we would advocate for the people we love.

Casey J. Cornelius (34:12):

I’m trying my best, not to snap in the background. Cuz I know it would ruin the audio. But I I, I agree so wholeheartedly with that sentiment. I remember also the first time you delivered the, the program, you can’t have it all and and you were getting ready to, we were at an event and Jess and I had been up and down the road several times together. You, you were, you were getting ready to leave and you’re like, Hey, I’m gonna go this program. I said, oh, how you feel about it? You’re like, I, I don’t know. I, I think it’s good. We’ll, we’ll see how people respond. And then about an hour later you came back and there was a line of 50 people following you back to to our booth. And it’s like, I guess it went, well, I guess it

Jessica Gendron Williams (34:51):

Went, cause we got kicked out of the room we were in. And I had like people sitting on each other’s laps to just stay in the room. So, you know, it was, it was good. Yeah. It’s a needed message

Casey J. Cornelius (35:02):

For sure. For sure. And, and the visual of you know, a line of 50 students sneaking behind you to ask you questions probably is indelible in my mind as well. Again, if you wanna learn more about Jess for college, for slash Jessica keynotes workshops, retreats, all that other kind of good stuff, Jess, we, we could go on for hours, but I, I wanna get you outta here on some rapid fire questions.

Jessica Gendron Williams (35:27):

I don’t know what these are. I, I know that you do them for everybody. But I have intentionally not listened to this so that I could, so that you’re hitting me cold.

Casey J. Cornelius (35:37):

Well, now, now that these are done, you’re gonna have a lot of listening to do. It’s, it’s always kind of fun to, to connect the dots, but then also kind of see people’s different reactions to the same questions. So here we go. This one is obviously for you based on our conversation thus far completely hypothetical, but let’s say you have an entire day to binge watch anything. What do you choose?

Jessica Gendron Williams (36:02):

Well, that’s so hard.

Casey J. Cornelius (36:05):

Don’t you don’t, you wish you’d prepared and I’m just kidding. <Laugh>

Jessica Gendron Williams (36:08):

No, so I hate shows that are not done, so I will only binge a show or watch a show if it’s done. So I didn’t watch big bang theory regularly until it was done. And then I watched all 10 seasons at once. So I’m currently watching Gilmore girls cuz I never actually watched Gilmore girls when it came out in like the two thousands. Yep. I’m also currently watching shits Creek. Okay. So I, I mean, I’m that girl where like, like I’m really mad that I watched season one of Bridger 10 because then I obviously had to watch season two of Bridgeton and now I’m pissed because Bridger ten’s not done. So I guess if I had a whole day I would finish Gilmore girls and then finish shit’s Creek. So

Casey J. Cornelius (37:11):

I think that’s a really interesting, I, I’m not sure if anyone’s given an answer such as that it’s I, until something is done and you know, it’s done, you don’t want to invest your time in it because you don’t want to, you don’t want exist on a cliff hanger is what I’m I think I heard.

Jessica Gendron Williams (37:23):

Oh I, yeah. I’m the girl who won’t go to a new movie the day it comes out because I have to read the plot of what actually happens in the movie before I go see it. Cuz I’m, I, I, I’m a type, a control freak level five cannot don’t like surprises will not go see those movies that I don’t know what happens. It’s it’s why I like hallmark movies because they all end the same way. The last two minutes, everybody makes up the, the, the humans get together and they kiss and, and everything ends up fine.

Casey J. Cornelius (38:03):

I don’t wanna say that we’ve wandered into a therapy session, but <laugh> I think there’s more there’s there’s something to explore. No, I’m just kidding. I’m just kidding. <Laugh> all right. Next question, Jess, what is the most used app on your phone?

Jessica Gendron Williams (38:18):

Probably Amazon,

Jessica Gendron Williams (38:24):

Them being totally honest. And second to Instagram and Facebook probably. I get great joy if you are my friend or want to be my friend you will always know when I go to bed at night because my favorite thing to do to unwind from the day is to watch Instagram reels and then send the really funny ones to my friends. And so if you’re ins, if you’re Instagram messages start blowing up in the middle of the night, it’s because I’m laying in bed getting ready to fall asleep. Sending funny Instagram reels to my friends,

Casey J. Cornelius (39:01):

Listen, this is, and you wouldn’t know this to our, to our listeners. Who’ve been been with us from the beginning. Jessica has not prepared. She did not want to know these questions. So I’m actually going to go out of order Jess and ask you the fourth question on the list. Okay. What, what do you do to wind down from the day <laugh> any rituals, any habits, any things that you do that say like, look it’s time for the day to be over.

Jessica Gendron Williams (39:27):

Oh my gosh. Yeah. I lay in bed and I scroll through Instagram reels. It’s exactly what I do. And then I put my sleep mask on and I pick my Yorky up off the floor and set ’em on my bed and we fall asleep blissfully.

Casey J. Cornelius (39:48):

I there’s no way that you could have possibly known that that question was coming. This is it’s hilarious to me. My, my guess is that those who’ve been with us from the beginning. You’re probably listening to this like, oh, she had to know what the question she did not know what the questions were. I

Jessica Gendron Williams (40:01):

Promise you. I have not, I’ve not previewed the questions prior to this meeting.

Casey J. Cornelius (40:05):

All right. So we’re completely out of order, but let’s try this one. Who would you most like to have dinner with?

Jessica Gendron Williams (40:20):

I don’t know. That’s a really difficult question for me. I think, you know, it it’s, I could totally pull a cliche of like, Ooh, I would pick this dead president and this dead artist and, and this person or I would pick this dead relative or you know, something like that. But for me, I just it’s really rare for me to have all the people that I love most all in the same city at the same time in the same room. And so for me, an ideal dinner would be for me to collect all my favorite humans and put them in the same room in the same city at the same time and have dinner with them and, and a lot 10 hours so that I could pop around and sit next to and laugh with and catch up with each person individually. Just because it’s it’s rare that I get ’em all in the same place at the same time.

Casey J. Cornelius (41:23):

That’s a fantastic answer. It’s a fantastic answer, but I’ll tell you one thing. We’re not having smoked Turkey. That’s

Jessica Gendron Williams (41:30):

That’s who made this? It’s it’s disgusting. <Laugh>

Casey J. Cornelius (41:35):

All right. Last question. We’re gonna get you outta here on this one. If listeners were so inclined, how can they best connect with you?

Jessica Gendron Williams (41:42):

Well, obviously Instagram. So you can slide into my DMS, Jay Williams.

Casey J. Cornelius (41:47):

Oh, oh.

Jessica Gendron Williams (41:51):

And you can

Casey J. Cornelius (41:51):

Receive reels late at night.

Jessica Gendron Williams (41:54):

<Laugh> I’ll catch you sometime between the hours of nine, 15:00 PM and 10:30 PM. While I’m scrolling through my reels email or text message or social media, anything I think all of that’s on the website, right? Casey.

Casey J. Cornelius (42:11):

It is. Oh yeah. Yeah, you can, you can find all that at I’m glad we’re not on video cuz I just blushed for a second. When you offered for folks to slide into your DMS, I was like,

Jessica Gendron Williams (42:24):


Casey J. Cornelius (42:25):

Listen. I say this I’m

Jessica Gendron Williams (42:27):

Pulling the thread all the way through. Do you see how I did that?

Casey J. Cornelius (42:29):

Yeah. Noticed. I noticed I say this for the bottom of my heart. I’m so glad that we had this opportunity to have this conversation so much to unpack here and just appreciate you on, on, on every level. Thanks. I really do my friend.

Jessica Gendron Williams (42:45):

Thanks if you have thanks for having me. Of course. Thanks for finally scheduling my podcast.

Casey J. Cornelius (42:49):

Oh listen, this is an inside joke and this is, this is not, no, we’re not gonna go there. We’re not gonna pull back the curtain that far.

Jessica Gendron Williams (42:57):

Well, we can just tell them that I’ve been teasing you mercilessly for several months that you never actually asked me to schedule my podcast. When in fact he did ask me to schedule my podcast. I just don’t read my emails. <Laugh>

Casey J. Cornelius (43:10):

Right. So don’t email J see, I should’ve gone on Instagram. That’s the, ah, there it

Jessica Gendron Williams (43:15):

Is. Yeah, you should have slid into my dams. There you go. I,

Casey J. Cornelius (43:18):

I know <laugh> okay. So before this completely goes off the rail, let me thank everyone. Who’s who spent the time listening with us. We sincerely appreciate you and, and also invite you to please do the things that you’re supposed to do with podcasts, like, and share and subscribe and comments and all that other kind of stuff review us. But then also let us know some of the things that you would like to hear. We’re we’re not done putting content out into the world. We have too many listeners and too many great bits of feedback to say that they that folks enjoy the stuff that we’re putting out. We’re gonna keep it going. So these interviews are great, but then we’re also gonna get creative start putting mashups of people together, topics that we’re gonna focus on, all that other kind of good stuff. Please let us know what you’d like to hear. And we sincerely appreciate the time that you’ve given us and also you, you know, giving us the love. So Jess certainly appreciate you, everyone. Who’s listened. Thank you so much. And until next time be well.



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