Milspouse Agent of Change: Career Lessons From Jenny Hale

Guys, this is Jenny Hale. Sometimes, I don’t like this woman.

“Aww…found another sale on Hater-ade, Reg?”

See, what I like is relaxation and sleep. Just lay my head down and pretend like I’m at the beach and the world doesn’t exist.  If I concentrate, I can even ignore the damn alarm clock.

But then…Jenny happens.

People like Jenny keep me awake at night. That’s because this woman has a mission, a dream and the laser-like focus to make it happen.

When you’re confronted with someone willing to put in work, real work, you end up confronting yourself. You start asking questions.

Am I all in about my own business and purpose?

Am I having fun?

If so, why the hell am I still in bed watching re-runs of Shark Tank?

The pressure of knowing that Jenny, who owns a marketing and social media consultancy for military spouse and veteran business owners, is building up the milspouse community while I kick back inspires me. I know it’s the same for others. Watching her is the gut punch needed to stop talking and get your hands grimy.

Mostly because, if you don’t, the Jenny’s of the world will.

Take a step back and it’s easy to see that a drive to achieve was with Jenny from a young age. With a buffet of careers in her sights as a child, curiosity fueled her education. Years later, at the age of 19, Jenny decided CEO was the logical next step. Of course, lots of people wish for the same. But Jenny Hale didn’t wish.

She made it happen.

Despite her humble background, the young woman from a small town near Fort Drum, New York built a successful photography business while in college. It was a good position to settle down with, but settling wasn’t an option for Jenny. With an itch to help others, she began teaching how to replicate her strategy for success. It was a move that would spark the rest of her career.

There’s an ocean of knowledge we can learn from Jenny and her journey. Roll up your pants, dip your toes in the water and let’s take a peek, shall we?

Lesson 1: Don’t stop for an obstacle. Pivot and keep it movin’.

I don’t care what anyone says, we all have dreams. All of us.

Soooo, yeah. Your dream sucks, Gary.

There’s a sense of destiny we carry inside ourselves. A vision of who we might become. Often it’s this view that starts us down a path towards success.

The problem is, life doesn’t give a crap about your dreams.  It has an agenda of its own and when you’re not looking, it can feel like destiny just got ripped out from under you.

It’s not true, guys. Only one thing can snatch away your dreams and that’s you. When you understand this truth, you change the game.

Trying to enlist was Jenny’s first taste of this truth.

Living in dorms and housing full of ROTC students while in college exposed her to the military community. The experience was so positive that she decided enlisting was the best way to join and support our armed forces. Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be.

Deemed medically unqualified for service, Jenny refused to let the setback stop her. She realized it wasn’t the membership status and secret decoder ring that led her towards enlistment.  It was supporting something bigger than herself.

Being denied didn’t stop the military from existing. They still needed support.

Acting powerless wouldn’t help. Neither would hiding behind excuses.

“Never let anything get in your way. If I had given up forever, I would not be where I am today!”

-Jenny Hale

Her mind was made up. After college, she worked as a photojournalist intern for a military public affairs office. The summer was spent rappelling down towers, experiencing the inside of a gas chamber, out on the grenade and rifle range and on long land navigation trainings – all as a photographer. It was the best time of her life and solidified her desire to help this community even more.

Fast forward, and today Jenny works with non-profits, corporate companies and military-focused organizations.  Teaching military spouses, veterans and their family members modern ways to market their military-focused businesses has deepened her purpose. Specifically, her instructions on social media algorithms and target audience attraction has made this entrepreneur a valued and trusted figure within the military business community.

From medically unqualified to military entrepreneur influencer?

Umm…yeah. Master the pivot.

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Lesson 2: Love what you do. There’s no time for anything else.

I asked Jenny if she enjoyed her work. This was her response:

“I LOVE all my careers.  I wake up every morning excited to go to my full-time job and then come home to a rewarding group of entrepreneurs who are as equally excited about personally succeeding too.

Never let anything get in your way.  If I had given up forever, I would not be where I am today! Entrepreneurship can be a movable career that brings you amazing fulfillment every day.”

If you take only one thing away from Jenny’s statement above, let it be ‘every morning’.

That probably needs some explanation. Don’t worry. I got ya’ fam.

You’re going to die.

You’re welcome.

NOT a good time for this talk, man!

Now before you start feelin’ some type of way, that isn’t me being morbid or dark.  In fact, it is the most uplifting bit of info you could hear right now. Stay with me.

Every one of us walks around making decisions based on eternity.  We treat time as though it’s limitless. Infinite. Eternal. And so we waste it.

We cling to relationships that need to end.

We’re silent when the opportunity to speak confronts us.

We push off dreams and desires for tomorrow, as if tomorrow is promised.

We fear our fears instead of feeling them and pushing through.

Your perception of time keeps many of you from feeling the way Jenny does every morning.  You wake up and lug yourselves to jobs that don’t fit or fulfill or grow you.  You make excuses about what’s holding you back and because time is ‘unlimited,’ you pretend that change can wait till later…

…and later…

…and later still.

What Jenny shows us is that loving your work by knowing your purpose is practical, possible and brings the ultimate success.

This isn’t some flimsy success built around money or possessions or status either.

It’s waking with the knowledge that, today, you will make an impact. That your service will help someone through this life. You can make a difference. Every. Day.

And with that mindset, you’ll stop wasting time.

You’ll master it.

Lesson 3: It’s never someone else’s job to fix YOUR broken…

One of the things the military spouse community gets wrong is who needs to fix the challenges of their lives, particularly employment.

Sure there’re some gears turning when it comes to legislative solutions. Problem is, these solutions are years, decades or even longer from bearing fruit.

It would be awesome if employers were more creative and flexible in hiring military spouses, but until the very real hardships this flexibility generates is drastically reduced or eliminated, there’s no real reason to change.

The solution lies within the milspouse community itself.

With 1.2 million active military spouses and 8-10 million veteran milspouses, your community is large enough and powerful enough to build its very own, self-contained economy.

The secret is unifying this network behind a common purpose and spreading that purpose as far as the winds will carry it.

Now that is deliciously poetic. Ha.

For Jenny Hale, building stronger connections between military spouses and other military groups is a winning strategy.  Using skills that have earned her the nickname “The Military Social Media Guru,” the entrepreneur’s quickly growing Facebook community (Marketing / Social Media for Veteran & Military Spouse Entrepreneurs) provides veteran and milspouse entrepreneurs with a safe place to fellowship, learn and support one another in their marketing and social media tactics.

The qualities that raise military communities above the fold (leadership, flexability, loyalty, hard work, etc.) are the same ones Jenny encourages her clients, students and tribe to maximize. Combined with available educational resources, she knows the challenges suffocating growth in these communities can be crushed by a unified, purpose-focused effort to win.

It’s not enough to be aware.

It’s even less helpful to complain.

Jenny Hale has made it her life to be part of the solution, not the problem, every single day. She may never know how many others she inspires to do the same.

Put like that, I guess I don’t care how much sleep I miss.  She’s shown me my purpose is worth getting up for.

So wake up fools!

We’ve got work to do.

Check out Jenny  on:

Jenny Hale
The Military Social Media Guru
-marketing and social media strategies for military community business owners-
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