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Experts Unleashed with Joel Erway

Apr 17, 2018

Good opportunists have the self-awareness to identify their superpower. They put forth extra effort to create opportunity. But self-identifying our expertise is no easy feat. Most of us are quick to eclipse our own abilities— the ones others find extraordinary.


Jen Kem unleashes her expert straight from her Hawaii home, where she currently runs multiple successful businesses. In this episode, we learn how she spotted opportunity at an airport that lead to an 8-figure business within 6 months. And how she left a fortune 500 company only to turn around and make them her biggest consulting client —all by leveraging the skills in her toolbox.


Episode Topics

  • Values violations in the workplace
  • Jen’s secret to getting noticed in a big company
  • Quitting without burning bridges
  • Autonomy as a top core value
  • ‘Nice-to-have’ vs ‘need-to-have’ and other consultant problems
  • Look here to discover your next business opportunity
  • Unexpected lessons in retail
  • Challenges of product-based businesses in Hawaii
  • Planning a go-to-market strategy
  • Identifying your expert superpowers
  • Funding entrepreneurial dreams…with your home
  • Dropping vanity metrics and the ego
  • Pivoting from employee to consultant
  • Leveraging old co-worker relationships
  • Depression and the overwhelm of being underprepared
  • Self-made stories and creating barriers
  • Transcending Expert's Curse
  • Courageously ‘stretch on the ask’
  • ROI from corporate engagement
  • Circumnavigating corporate vendor red tape
  • Applying corporate world expertise to the retail world
  • Celebrating advantages and honoring your expertise



[5:24] Starting line: Jen was a successful Verizon executive in charge of a billion-dollar budget making $400K/yr.


[6:40] Secret to success: "I was the gal who’d always take the crappiest projects on purpose...I love a challenge. It fed that motivator for me and... gets you noticed inside of a company."


[7:11] Values violation: In 2005, she discovered her counterpart made $100K more than her. "It offended every part of my value system."


[8:00] Quitting without burning bridges: After Verizon failed to match Jen's salary, she realized she had no autonomy and created a 9-month exit plan.


[9:31] "If you live in your values then it's hard to go wrong. It's hard to go wrong if you pair that with the massive action you have to live in those values."


[11:19] Seeing opportunity: While forming her 9-month exit plan, Jen flew frequently and made it a point to keep her eyes open for opportunity.


[12:15] Lightbulb moment #1: At the airport, she noticed women disembarking toting pink Victoria's Secret bags. At the time, Hawaii was sans undergarment shop for women.


[13:18] Leveraging corporate skills: Had no retail background but knew how to bring products to market, how to launch, brand, and PNL a product.


[14:16] Purple Cow style: Jen opened up the first women's undergarments boutique in Hawaii.


[15:53] Making sacrifices: She sold her house to fund the business.


[16:25] Business 101: "The minute I opened my doors, I could not keep one piece of anything in stock."


[17:21] Serendipitous opportunity: Oprah Winfrey ran a special on underwear the same year Jen went to market. The boutique made her a millionaire in 6-12 months.


[18:57] Overwhelmed and underprepared: Panic attacks ensued because the growth was difficult to control.


[20:36] Connecting the dots: Applying corporate world expertise to the retail world.


[22:12] Networking and relationships: Making strategic connections as a high-end product-based business.


[26:18] When you launched, did you even think this was 8-figure potential within 12 months? Absolutely not. It wasn't my goal.


[27:08] Drop from the top: At the pinnacle of her growth in 2008, the economy crashed. Shut down, liquidated, and claimed bankruptcy.


[29:52] Hitting rock bottom: Jen and her daughter moved in with her grandmother. "For 6 months, I stewed in my depression...being really mean to myself. 'How could you make this not work? You're smarter than that." 


[31:22] Pivotal moment: "Mommy, it's time to wake up. You're Jen Kem. You know what to do."


[34:55] Applying lessons: Swore off retail and returned to a service-based business model. "I have mad respect for people in retail, especially small business owners."


[35:56] Lightbulb moment #2: "I could get Verizon to pay me $100K." Jen explains how she turned her previous employer into her first consulting client.


[41:06] Taking chances: She submitted a $100K, 6-month contract and because of her prior branding expertise, Verizon accepted.


[43:05] Self-made barriers: "If you're an expert in any area, you actually are so smart that you outsmart yourself and make it harder."


[43:43] Transcending Expert's Curse: “I could see things whenever I was inside a company but couldn't see it as well when I was trying to do it for myself."


[45:43] Identifying superpowers: “Thank you Joel, for this podcast that you have because I think what people don't realize is that they have gold inside of them."


[50:01] Honoring your expertise:

  • Develop self-awareness so you can pinpoint your superpower
  • Celebrate advantages
  • Create opportunities around your area of expertise
  • Realize when opportunities present themselves and be able to seize them



Connect with Jen: <-- Discover and amplify your unique advantage!



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