HR in the Car - Episode 15: "Help the Person Right in Front of You"
We’re joined this week by Jessie Zweigenthal. She’s a prime example of what one can accomplish in their career with grit, drive, and determination. Jessie shares her story about how she got her start working with the Jahnels, and several of the roles they “invited” her to try out over her 14 years with them. We talk about some of the great initiatives Jahnel Group has going in the community, including connecting with local schools to expose students to new career possibilities in their backyard.
Jessie serves as the Director of Employee Engagement at Jahnel Group, a Capital Region based software consulting firm, where she helps employees connect with each other and with the mission of the company. She is a wife and working mother who strives to set an example of what it means to live well and bring others along for the ride. As a Schenectady High School graduate who wandered into a decade-long career in software design and project management accidentally, she is on a mission to help other underprivileged students land in the software industry on purpose.
Director of Employee Engagement, Jahnel Group
Voiceover: Welcome to HR in the Car with Miriam Dushane and Tom Schin of Alaant Workforce Solutions, where exciting HR professionals and business leaders share laughter, insider stories, and maybe even a few tears about HR in today's world. Buckle up for the best half hour of your week.
Tom Schin: Well, today we are here with our next episode of HR in the Car. And this is actually a guest I've never met before, not handshake to handshake kind of person. Tell us a little bit about our guest, Miriam.
Miriam Dushane: So I met Jessie just a few months ago. She is the Director of Employee Engagement at the Jahnel Group. And so for our local listeners, many of them should recognize the Jahnel Group. They are a news maker in our area. And she's been with the leadership team for over 14 years now. And they have done some amazing things. And so I had the opportunity to be on a business panel with her, and she was one of the presenters talking about employer culture and what they do for employees. And she had so much energy, I just couldn't wait to have her on the show with us today. So that is who we're going to talk to.
So thank you so much for joining us today, Jessie. I am super, super excited to have you here. One, because I feel like we could be soul sisters in another life and I'm really excited for you to tell your story a little bit, talk about the work that you do with the Jahnel Group, and then we can dig into some of the things that they are doing in our community and in the tech sector. So I'm super happy that you're here.
Jessie Zweigenthal: Well, thank you for having me. It's such an honor to be on the show. And happy birthday, Miriam.
Miriam Dushane: Oh, thank you.
Jessie Zweigenthal: It's great to spend your birthday with you.
Miriam Dushane: By the time this airs it'll be months later, but that's okay. Thank you. I appreciate that very much.
Tom Schin: Your birthday will last forever and ever.
Miriam Dushane: And ever and ever and ever, so thank you so much. I really-
Jessie Zweigenthal: You're welcome.
Miriam Dushane: Appreciate it. So Jessie, tell us about your job at Jahnel Group, and tell us a little bit about Jahnel Group.
Jessie Zweigenthal: So I serve as the Director of Employee Engagement at Jahnel Group. Essentially, it's my job to help people get the most out of their careers with us. And so that involves multiple facets of life. That's including career development and connections with other employees, and just general fulfillment in their time at JG.
We're a custom software development shop. We are a consulting firm, so we work on behalf of many clients helping to build custom software to serve their businesses, sometimes platforms that they are selling to their customers.
Miriam Dushane: Now, when you started your role, you didn't start as the Director of Employee Engagement. So give us a little bit of a history on your background, and how you even got introduced to Jahnel, and what you started at. Because if I remember correctly from the stories I've been told, you started basically as an admin, correct?
Jessie Zweigenthal: Well, not exactly.
Miriam Dushane: Oh, really? Okay.
Jessie Zweigenthal: You have not heard the story of how I landed where I am today and I think it's pretty interesting. I started working for the Jahnel's 14 years ago.
Miriam Dushane: Wow.
Jessie Zweigenthal: I was 18 years old, and I started before we were Jahnel Group, we were an educational software company at the time. Darrin had quit his job on Wall Street, where he was working as a developer, and he had built an educational software product that he was selling to New York City schools, and schools across the country. At the time, I was studying to go into ministry of all things. I had no intentions-
Miriam Dushane: Really?
Jessie Zweigenthal: - of building a business career, and I was just looking for part- time work, just for cash, because I was a college student. And so I thought, well, let me reach out to Darrin, who I happened to know through church at the time. I knew he was an entrepreneur or something. That was like all I knew. I didn't even know really what it meant to be an entrepreneur, but I knew maybe he needed help with something. So I reached out and he said, in a very Darrin Jahnel way, "I have the worst job in the world and I really need help. If you want to start tomorrow, I need someone to telemarket to New York City school teachers.
Tom Schin: Woof.
Jessie Zweigenthal: And at 18, I was like, "That doesn't sound terrible to me. That's kind of what I'm looking for." I wasn't looking to build a career. And telemarketing for Darrin Jahnel was fun. He made it worth my time. He threw in fun bonuses. His mom would come to the office and make us lunch. We were having a blast telemarketing. And that's the last time I was qualified for the job that I have held, when I was telemarketer. Since then, well at 19 years old, he said to me, "Why don't you start a call center? Let's hire more call center reps. You can manage it. You can train everybody, lead the charge." And I was like, "First of all, I don't know if I want to be the person who runs a call center. That doesn't sound like the career I want to build here." And so he said, "Just try it. Let's see how it goes." So we hired three of the squirreliest people you can imagine off Craigslist, and I led a call center-
Miriam Dushane: Craigslist.
Jessie Zweigenthal: .. for a while. And then after that, I started doing business admin work. And the story of my career has been Darrin Jahnel saying, "Why not? Give it a shot." And Jason and the whole team every step of the way saying, "I think you can do this. If you have questions along the way, we're going to figure it out together." And so I started a call center, then I became business admin. And then we started marketing our programs more online rather than phone to phone. And so I started doing marketing online. Back then it was like web banner ads, it was a different world. And so I started building some Photoshop skills for the marketing purposes. And eventually Darrin said, "Hey why don't you design a software system that will allow us to track our interactions with customers and accounts." And he said, "Wire frame something up, what it would look like for us to put some screens in place to manage this." And I said, "What's a wire frame?"
Miriam Dushane: What's a-
Jessie Zweigenthal: Yeah. And so he sat down with me and he got a pencil and a piece of paper, and he showed me like, "Oh, just think about where the button should go, what kind of information you need." So I designed this system that we used for years to then manage our accounts, and that was the first piece of software I ever designed. And the famous story, if you haven't heard the Jahnel Group story, is that we were killing ourselves to make it with this educational software product. And Darrin was constantly turning down requests from people within his network for building custom software or helping people build software. People just generally know, if you call a Jahnel, they'll get things done for you. And so people he had worked with and Jason had worked with on Wall Street would call them all the time asking for help. And they were always saying, "No, we've got a product. We're going to make it. We're busy. We've got our heads down." And eventually Darrin said, "This is crazy, we're killing ourselves. We're making it, but not really making a ton of money." We were in all 50 states, more than a dozen countries, 10% of New York City schools. We had a recognizable product, but it wasn't as lucrative as we had hoped. And so he said, "The next time the phone rings, and someone asks for help with software, I'm just going to say yes. I'm going to take the job." And the next day the phone rang. And they did not ask for a developer, they asked for a software designer, and he had already committed that he was going to say, yes, I had designed some stuff in- house. And he said, "Brush up on your Photoshop skills, we're going to Boston. You're a software designer now."
Tom Schin: Wow.
Jessie Zweigenthal: And so I ended up spending 10 years working as a software designer and project manager, and doing business development with Darrin. Going and convincing clients that we could make their problems go away with software. And I was having the time in my life. It was the career that I never would've chosen, but I really, really found great fulfillment in. I built real skill set that was a lot of fun to work with. And that was kind of the core of my career, until just a few years ago, when Jahnel Group hit about 75 people.
We had outgrown Darrin and Jason's capacity to really care for the individuals on the team to the degree that they feel compelled to care for their employees.
Miriam Dushane: Absolutely.
Jessie Zweigenthal: I use the word compelled very specifically. If you know the Jahnels, you know they say all the time, " We're a software company, but actually we exist as a place to help people build the lives of their dreams." Our written company purpose has nothing to do with software. It is to do great things personally and professionally. And for them. As entrepreneurs, they feel it's their place, their purpose in this world to help people build the lives of their dreams.
And so they weren't able to help individuals to the degree that they wanted to be involved. And so they asked me if I would step out of billable work, where I was bringing money in for the company every day, and build out this new role as Director of Employee Engagement, where I am now dedicated a 100% to caring for the people on our team.
Miriam Dushane: I love that.
Jessie Zweigenthal: So that's how I got to where I am today.
Miriam Dushane: And Jessie, remind us, because I need you to say this, because are you kidding me? You started with them, took a shot, just a job, and then all of a sudden, and I'm not downplaying everything, you're a software designer. Tell me about your education.
Jessie Zweigenthal: So I am a Schenectady High School alumni. Like you said earlier, I don't have a college degree. My education has really come through experience.
Miriam Dushane: Absolutely.
Jessie Zweigenthal: You don't know this about me, I don't believe, but when I finished high school, I had an amazing opportunity to be the single student selected for the year I graduated to travel the world for one year in a ministry internship. So this program I was a part of ran for a series of eight years, and every year they would choose one student from within this global community of churches and organizations, where they would build a one year experience around your ministry interests. So I spent a year anywhere from three weeks to three months in seven different countries.
Miriam Dushane: Wow.
Jessie Zweigenthal: And the whole program was built around my interest. So they sent me to countries and locations where I could build skills and make relationships with people that would serve those interests. It was truly life changing. And Darrin had known that about me when I returned from that, like I mentioned, we went to the same church, and that was a big part of, I think, his interest in working together. He was like, "Oh, she's adventurous and ready to put herself out there." So that is really, I think, the source of my education has been travel, and just being ready to experience life on the job.
Miriam Dushane: On the job.
Tom Schin: So you basically had a bucket list at age four, and you've accomplished everything now, is what I've heard in the last 10 minutes.
Miriam Dushane: You got to keep adding to your bucket list forever. Never give up on that one.
Tom Schin: And now we understand why there won't be any F-bombs in this recording.
Miriam Dushane: All right, fine. Well, you feel free.
Jessie Zweigenthal: Oh, I know. I know
Miriam Dushane: They're not going to come from me. I may drop the little curse words, but the big ones.
Jessie Zweigenthal: That's okay. Yeah, no, it's totally fine.
Tom Schin: I love what you said at the earlier part of the conversation where your role is to help people get the most out of their career versus being employer centric. It's employee centric, which is, it fits with your title, it's perfect, but it's just such a different lens that you don't hear very often.
Jessie Zweigenthal: Well, whether employers realize it or not, that is the interaction that's happening. They just aren't acknowledging it. And so I always talk about this idea of creating two- sided partnerships with our employees. I think a lot of businesses, when you think about what happens in the process of giving a job offer, a company has a role they need to fill, they have goals as an organization, and they're trying to find someone who can help them achieve those goals. And when a company makes a job offer, it's because they're saying to that person, essentially, "we see you as someone who can help us reach these goals." And what we know to be true is the person on the other side of the table is processing the same thing. They're thinking, "I have goals, I know where I'm trying to get." And if they're going to accept a job offer, it's because they're saying, "I see you as an organization that can best serve me in getting there and building the life that I want to build." And we just acknowledge that element of it. We know that if we can help someone achieve their goals and give them the space to do that and to partner with them, however we can to create the life of their dreams, we just believe it's going to come full circle back to us. If you walk with someone on the worst day of their life and you celebrate with them on the best day of their life, you're in it together. It's a partnership and we're going to help each other get there. And we're all going to get there faster and further and it's going to be more fun.
Miriam Dushane: This isn't rocket science. We talk about this all the time. And I've been talking about it even more, because that's the part that employers don't acknowledge or forget about. "What do you mean this person has goals and dreams? What do you mean, they're not just-" It's not all about just a paycheck, that's a big part of it, but I think employers are struggling with the change of mindset to acknowledge that we both have those goals and those ambitions, and together, working together we can actually help accomplish that. And it just does baffle me that we encounter so many employers that just, that doesn't occur to them. It just doesn't occur to them. It's all about the business. It's all about the bottom line. And it's not about any of those other things.
Jessie Zweigenthal: Yeah. That stuff exists outside of the agreement, right?
Miriam Dushane: It's true.
Tom Schin: I can remember a number of times where either Darrin or Jason had spoken at the BizLab, in Schenectady, pre-pandemic. But the stories that they would tell about how they brought somebody along who didn't have coding skills or didn't have the skills for the job. But you as an organization create an environment for them to learn, acquire those skills, and get to a point where, from the descriptions, they were getting offered jobs paying way more, but they felt so committed and loyal to Jahnel group for investing in them, and creating them a path that they would never have had on their own.
Jessie Zweigenthal: Yeah, absolutely. I think, in the early days, our entire employee base was essentially made up of people who were figuring out a career in this space. And we used to say all the time, "we don't find great developers, we make great developers." And the truth is, at the time, great developers didn't know who we were and they didn't want to come work for us. We didn't have a reputation. Now we are able to find great developers, but we're very proud that we have remain true to our roots in developing developers. We have an insane internship program that we run every summer that has just been a real source of pride and joy for us. And one of the things that we've done as we've grown to double down on our mission to develop not just developers but all of our workforce is alongside of me being in this non- billable role dedicated to helping employees, we also have a Director of Career Development, Jory Hutchins, who is just phenomenal. He leads this incredible internship program. He oversees all of our training and certifications. And he's a person that our whole staff has available at their disposal to go to and say, "Hey, I want to build skills in this area. Where do I get started?" Or, " Hey, I want to move my career in this direction. How do I do that?" And he builds out training programs, he oversees our certification programs. We have a really, really cool program that we're very proud of called the Certification Bounty Program, where, in the software industry, there's a billion certifications that you go for. They make you look good. They give you actionable skills that improve your career. And they make any company look good who has lots of certified people. And especially in a consulting firm, it's great for us to be able to say, "We've got certified people." So what we've done is we've built out this bounty program where we don't just reimburse people for the cost of the certification, we pay them for having gotten it. We have some certs that pay upwards of a $1, 000. And it, there's certifications people want anyways. You get to put it on your resume. You've got it now, and we'll just straight up pay you cash money to get it.
Miriam Dushane: That's awesome. That's a great professional development tool.
Jessie Zweigenthal: Well, one of our core values is grow. And we believe that when one person at Jahnel Group gets better, the whole organization gets better together. And so we'll invest in that all day long. We're all about that.
Miriam Dushane: Definitely. So one of the things that I wanted us to talk about today was something that you had brought up a couple of months ago when we were together at a Capital Region Chamber event. And the reality of the situation is, is that diversity in the tech space is still lacking. And you talked a little bit about a program that you're working on and working with your organization, and I think it's Schenectady schools-
Jessie Zweigenthal: Mm- hmm.
Miriam Dushane: To try to help address that. So can you tell us a little bit more about that program?
Jessie Zweigenthal: Yeah, so it's no secret that our industry struggles hugely with diversity. Jahnel Group has not been immune to that. Obviously, we would love to have a super diverse and dynamic workforce, but it can be really challenging to hire from different diverse backgrounds into the industry. And so we talk about it constantly. We're always like, how can we do better? How can we improve this? As Schenectady High grad, I'm used to being around diversity all the time. And anybody who's grown up like that, it's fun, it's dynamic, you're around different people. It's rich, there's such a richness to it. And so we are like, "Man, how do we have that? How do we get that? Okay, we're interviewing, obviously, we want to hire for diversity. But what do you do when you look at the talent pool, and there aren't that many options to pull from?" And so we are always talking about it and considering like, "Well, how can we do better? What can we change? Is it us? Is it our company culture that people are not interested in being a part of? Is it our recruiting efforts?" It's so multifaceted. But the one thing that we have started really doing is building out this partnership with Schenectady High, where, we've decided, " Okay, we can't necessarily change the talent pool today. And we will continue to do our absolute best to recruit and find people to bring into our organization who have the skills today." But years from now, I don't want to still be saying, " Where's the diversity in the talent pool?" As someone who grew up in an inner city community, underprivileged family, female, I did not have any examples of careers in tech. Not one. I called my sister to verify this. I said, "Was there anyone that I'm forgetting? Did we know anybody-
Miriam Dushane: Anybody.
Jessie Zweigenthal: -Who had a career in technology?" Not one. There was zero exposure and zero representation of girls, of people who came from my background. And to me, I've spent a lot of time thinking about this and questioning, "How can we do better? What can we do?" And I just keep coming back to, well, it feels so insurmountable, if you think about it from a systemic perspective, like real change is needed. And I think the magnitude of the challenge has stopped us and others from putting in the effort, because it just feels insurmountable. And we've had to step back and ask ourselves, "Well, what can we do?" And what I think we can do is provide inspiration and exposure, and show younger students and children what a career in tech can look like. Because I know when they see it, they'll be inspired. I always joke that if you had given me a list of 1,000 careers and said I had to pick one of them, it would be so overwhelming. And I would start by taking all of the technology focused careers and taking them off the list, because I know that's not what I want to do, right? "Oh, I'm not a nerd. I'm not that smart. I'm not whatever. I'm not interested in computers. Get that off the list to pare it down to something more manageable." And then I stumbled into a career in tech, and found that in the software industry, there are roles for creatives and roles for all sorts of people. And I didn't know that. And I never ever, ever would've come into this career on purpose. And I would love to help some people get here on purpose rather than stumbling into it like I did. Because I know that there are awesome, well paying jobs up for taking for people who otherwise are just going to take them off their list to whittle it down to something more manageable. And if you don't have the exposure and even know it exists, you're never going to get there-
Miriam Dushane: Absolutely.
Jessie Zweigenthal: On purpose.
Miriam Dushane: Absolutely.
Jessie Zweigenthal: So we actually hosted a field trip yesterday to our office. We had 24 Schenectady High School students in our office. And it was so exciting. It was so energizing to have young people in the office. They had so many questions, they had zero context for what we did. And we gave them tours of the office, which was inspiring in itself, because we have a really beautiful space. That students from low income situations, they don't even consider office work. I say that as someone who came from that world. All you know is the jobs you've been exposed to, teachers and whatever your parents do, and a few people in your life. And they have never seen anything like this. And their heads nearly fell off. I just watched them with their mouths open looking around, like, what in the world is happening here? And then we did presentations where they heard from six different people who play different roles in the software industry. And we were very set on, "We want you to know it's not just the math nerds who write code. There are designers. There are software testers. There are marketing people who bring contracts in. There are recruiting people who bring people in." And just gave them a really well rounded exposure to what a career and tech could look like.
Miriam Dushane: Awesome.
Tom Schin: That's awesome. I imagine from both the teachers and the career counselors at school, just watching the faces open up to, "Oh my god, my world has changed. No longer do I want to do this. Now the sky's the limit."
Miriam Dushane: Well, and frankly you said that about the counselors and teachers, you need to contact all the school districts and give the teachers and the guidance counselors that field trip, that exposure. Because just what you said at that student level, I can guarantee you, probably half of the people at the teaching and counseling level don't actually realize it as well. I spend a ton of time talking to organizations and I mean I'm on the board of Tech Valley High, because I want the teachers a nd they do a really good job at that school. They have a business alliance that really brings in businesses of all shapes and sizes and backgrounds and industries, so that when they're teaching the students, they are exposing them to everything. What other things do you do in that program?
Jessie Zweigenthal: So it's a brand new partnership, so far we started by hosting an assembly at the school, which was a lot of fun. From there, we invited the students to sign up for a field trip. And we committed that we would host as many field trips as it takes in order to get every student who wants to come to Jahnel Group in the doors. And so they were able to accommodate 24. We've got another one already planned for January, and they say they've had to turn kids away-
Miriam Dushane: Wow.
Jessie Zweigenthal: From these lists.
Miriam Dushane: That's awesome.
Jessie Zweigenthal: Which we are so thrilled about. So we will host as many of those as we can. And we went into this saying, "We're going to build this partnership. We've got all these big ideas. We're going to bring a bounty program to the school, and pay kids to show up and to build a website." And we had all these grand visions of what we want to do. And we kind of stepped back and said, "We don't want to make assumptions about what's needed. Why don't we soft play this, in the sense of let's get ourselves in there, build a reputation with some students, and see what needs arise, and then formulate a plan of how we can meet those needs."
Miriam Dushane: Perfect.
Jessie Zweigenthal: And so one of the things that really influences the way that I do what I do on a daily basis, and how we operate as a company is this idea that we will always do for one, what we wish we could do for everyone. And the whole idea is when you think about a systemic thing or even offering a benefit or a perk or something to someone, all the time, people would be like, "Oh, well we couldn't do that for everybody so we better not." And we reject that wholeheartedly. We're like, "No, we will always do for one what we wish we could do for everyone." We have this one guy on our team who we just taught to drive. He wanted to learn how to-
Tom Schin: That's great.
Jessie Zweigenthal: He never got to learn how to drive. And we were like, "Well, let's teach them. We'll use our lunch breaks. We'll put a roster of people together who can teach them how to drive." And when I pitched it to him, he said, "I couldn't ask you to do that for me, because you couldn't do that for everybody." And I said, "Ooh I'll do it for everyone I can. And if the day comes that I can't do it for someone, I'll be so sorry. I can't do it for them, but I will not regret that we did it for you." And that's kind of always been our mentality, is you do for one, what you wish you could do for everyone. And again, when it comes to making strides in this area of equity and diversity and inclusion, the problem seems so, so insurmountable. But if you just ask yourself, what can I do for the person in front of me? That's how you make real change. As an individual and as an organization, just ask yourself, "How can I make the life of the person in front of me better? What resources can I offer? What encouragement can I..." Sometimes it's as simple as encouragement and exposure, and just don't hold yourself out of the opportunity to make an impact, because you feel like it has to be fair for every single person.
Miriam Dushane: Help one person, that's how you make true change. And HR people get stuck in that.
Jessie Zweigenthal: They get stuck in fair world.
Miriam Dushane: They totally get stuck in fair world. And so I just want to thank you so much for joining us today. I hope every employer just hears the story and realizes that you can be really great to your employees, and the returns are even better than that one-sided employer relationships that often we see in the workplace. So as we wrap up, this is HR in the Car. And so we want to know what is in your roadside assistance toolkit? What makes Jessie get up in the morning and go to work? Or what is the thing you grab when you're like, "Okay, I just got to power through. I got to get this done. This is what keeps me motivated, or this is something I lean on"?
Jessie Zweigenthal: Well, one thing I would say is, for me, it's been a really big deal to diagnose and understand my own rhythms of productivity. I think I am naturally a very distractable person.
Miriam Dushane: No.
Tom Schin: You're in the right room.
Miriam Dushane: You? I mean, hello?
Jessie Zweigenthal: And sometimes, yeah, I can-
Miriam Dushane: Tell me more, please.
Jessie Zweigenthal: So I can struggle to tap into the willpower to really focus and get things done. And I would look to podcasts or books or whatever on insights of how to be more productive. And I kept hearing all the time, "Oh, you have to do the most important things first thing." And I'm not at my best yet first thing. And I would say, "Okay, I have to get this content written or complete this task. I've got to do it first thing." And then I would try to pour my energy into that thing first thing in the day, and I wouldn't get it done. And then the second half of my day would be loaded with meetings. And then I didn't have the time to do it then, because I'm occupied. And I suddenly realized I am energized by people. And my husband jokes that I have a word quota I have to hit every day. And if I got a lot of words at night, he's like, "Did you talk to your sister today? You didn't hit your word quota, did you?" And so I am energized by people. I need to start my day with people, so I can be depleted enough to focus and do the other work. And so I've just said, "Okay, forget what all the productivity podcasts say. I need to understand myself, and myself needs people in the morning, so I can be productive in the afternoon." So just recognizing that has really transformed my ability to be productive. The second thing I'll mention is my bullet journal. Are you familiar with bullet journaling?
Miriam Dushane: No.
Jessie Zweigenthal: Oh, you-
Miriam Dushane: Tom?
Jessie Zweigenthal: -are familiar with-
Tom Schin: No.
Jessie Zweigenthal: Bullet journaling?
Miriam Dushane: Tom is usually familiar with everything. He's like, "Oh yeah, I know that book." "Oh yeah, I know that author." "Oh yeah, I know that podcast." "Oh yeah, I know this. I know that." He knows all of these. He just wrote that down.
Tom Schin: I did.
Jessie Zweigenthal: Well, this is very exciting that I-
Miriam Dushane: Tell us more.
Jessie Zweigenthal: Get to introduce you to the idea of a bullet journal. It's very simple, really. I'm a physical to-do list person. I really get satisfaction out of like-
Miriam Dushane: Me too.
Jessie Zweigenthal: Checking a box. Oh, I love it.
Miriam Dushane: I literally-
Tom Schin: She prints hers out every day.
Miriam Dushane: I literally print a calendar every day, and I cross things off.
Jessie Zweigenthal: Do you ever add things to your list you've already done just so you can check it off? Because I've-
Miriam Dushane: No, but-
Jessie Zweigenthal: Been known to do that.
Miriam Dushane: Yes, but you know why?
Tom Schin: I've done that.
Miriam Dushane: No, but you know why I do it. It's a journal of, I may not have gotten that done, because this happened instead, and that's my brain power.
Jessie Zweigenthal: Well, then you might bullet journaling. So the idea behind bullet journaling is that it's not just an ongoing list of to-dos. There is basically a syntax and a language behind the bulleting that you use. So essentially, every day what I do is I sit down, I open my journal and I go to my calendar. I won't get into every detail, but essentially, I start by putting in an open circle for each event. So it's a circle that denotes, this is an event in my day. I put the time in the event, and then I look at my events, and I say, "What tasks are required of me in preparation for or after these events?" And then you put a bullet, like an actual little dot that represents that it's a to-do. And there's other items that you can add and you can put notes in and whatever. But at the end of every day you have to reconcile everything on your list. So you don't ever go back five days prior to see what's on your list. At the end of the day, you put an X through a bullet if you completed a task, but if you didn't complete it, you have to do something with it. So you'll put a forward arrow through the bullet and move it into your next day, so you handle it-
Miriam Dushane: Dude.
Jessie Zweigenthal: The next day.
Miriam Dushane: Dude, have you ever-
Jessie Zweigenthal: If you forward-
Miriam Dushane: Seen-
Tom Schin: It's like organization management.
Miriam Dushane: Have you ever seen my calendar-
Tom Schin: It's a mess.
Miriam Dushane: When I don't get it done that day? I either write a date next to it, where I know I can then complete it. Or a fricking forward arrow. I'm already doing all of this.
Jessie Zweigenthal: Look at you, you're bullet journaling, Miriam. And you can add a backlog. So you put a backwards arrow through and say, "You know what? I didn't get to this, but this isn't important right now. I'm moving it off my list for now and put it here to deal with later." And so every day you have to reconcile what you did with your day, and decide if I forward air or something three days in a row, on day four, I'm like, "I'm going to cross this thing off today." You have to actually acknowledge-
Tom Schin: There's guilt. Your own self guilt.
Miriam Dushane: Yeah, your own self- accountability.
Jessie Zweigenthal: It's called-
Tom Schin: Fantastic.
Jessie Zweigenthal: My bullet journal. Highly recommend.
Tom Schin: Thanks, Jessie.
Jessie Zweigenthal: My pleasure. Thanks guys.
Tom Schin: It's such a pleasure to meet you face-to-face and have conversation with you. And thanks for sharing your stories. The reputation that you and the team at Jahnel have built is fantastic. And if you folks listening don't know about them, get online, do a Google search, learn more about all the fantastic things. I know I've used Jahnel Group as an example in presentations I've given, based on other stories that I've heard that were fantastic. I used the word again, I got to get away from fantastic.
Miriam Dushane: But, Tom, you're fantastic.
Tom Schin: Badump, bump, cch. Thanks for joining us. Well, I am blown away. I really loved how Jessie talked about how her role is really to, and I said this during the conversation, help people get the most out of their career there. And that they have other folks focused on developing the employees, not just from a, "Here's your task load," the certification elements, there's so much to her story that just- I'm amazed.
Miriam Dushane: So I love feeling validated. And my validation for today is I told you so, and this is a perfect case study in an employer recognizing that it's not all just about them, it's actually the opposite. But because they have focused on employees, it has made them a great, successful growth company. Not just locally, but nationally. And so just, for me, it's like validation to all the stuff we always talk about, right Tom? About being good to your employees.
Tom Schin: Mm- hmm.
Miriam Dushane: How important culture is, how important it is to, it's not all about you, it's actually about them. And my other validation was just the fact that I am actually a bullet journaler. And I probably revolutionized it way before she ever knew about it.
Tom Schin: Right. You should have trademarked it.
Miriam Dushane: I know.
Tom Schin: The one thing I didn't hear her say in any of those conversations was money has never come up. If you think about that as something to sink in listeners, in that employee engagement and your culture and what you do and how you invest into your people isn't just all about money. It's important, don't get me wrong-
Miriam Dushane: Not all.
Tom Schin: But they're doing it. And those were never part of that conversation. So if you want to learn more about our podcast, come to alaant.com.
Miriam Dushane: And don't forget the show notes, because there'll be information about Jessie and the Jahnel Group and more information about how they're building culture. And you can take a look at that as well.