Interview with Jenn Lederer
Motivational Comedy sounds like a neat mix – what gave you the idea to pursue that?
I come from a performance background (BA in Dance) so making my presentations entertainment-based has always been a priority of mine. When I first started as a Motivational Speaker in 2011 I used storytelling techniques to get my point across in my presentations and noticed that a lot of the stories I told were naturally funny…and the funny parts were ALWAYS what audiences wanted to chat with me about afterward. Humor resonates because humor is based in truth.
I had a feeling that making an intentional shift into “motivational comedy” vs. “a motivational speaker who is funny sometimes” could be really powerful for both my brand and my message, so naturally, I procrastinated on making the official shift for over 2 years! What can I say? I understand the creative process intimately because I live it every day.
Now that I’m on the “other side” of my latest professional pivot, I can’t believe I waited so long to take the leap! (says everyone who has ever taken a leap of faith) But timing is everything, as they say, and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to share my vision of motivational comedy with the world.
Can you give three tips to individuals struggling with their leadership presence?
When someone is struggling with their leadership skills it usually boils down to a crisis of confidence. You’ve lost trust in yourself or in your vision. You’re comparing yourself to everyone else around you, and you begin to doubt that what you have to offer holds any value.
Three steps to bring yourself back from these moments are:
1. Reconnect to what you KNOW to be true about your work and your message. Why is it important to you that this message is heard? How has this message changed your life?
2. Check-in with your self-care routines. Have they gotten stale? Are you sitting there thinking “Um, WHAT self-care routine, Jenn?”
If you find yourself constantly striving to please others, prove yourself, earn the next opportunity – and never taking time to go inward and remember that you have EVERYTHING you need within, you’re leaving a TON of leadership power on the table.
When you connect to your inner strength, your doubts don’t stand a chance! Strong leaders learn how to take responsibility for the energy / thoughts / beliefs they carry around.
3. Ask for help! When you are stuck in self-doubt it can be difficult to find your way out alone. Having someone who you trust and who has your best interest at heart remind you that you matter, that your voice matters, that your message matters might be just the boost you need to get back in the game of life!
What makes your talks unique?
My talks are unique because you forget that you’re hearing a “talk” or “presentation” at all! My talks offer a new perspective on familiar concepts by way of motivational stand-up comedy. I want my audience to laugh so hard they #shift themselves, and not even realize it happened.
Self-improvement doesn’t have to be heavy or serious to be effective. When you laugh, your walls are down, so transformation can happen effortlessly.
How did you get started as a comedian & leadership coach?
As I mentioned earlier, I earned a BA in dance from Point Park University in Pittsburgh, which brought me to New York City in 2007 after graduation. I had my eyes set on the Broadway stage, only to discover that the “dancer lifestyle” wasn’t exactly the dream I had envisioned all my life. The audition process was brutal, everyone wanted to talk about resume credits, and none of it was exciting. My dream had become my chore. I wanted something more, something deeper…but I had NO idea what that “something” was.
After working several J-O-B’s around the city for a few years, I got the opportunity to work for a talent management company, representing actors for film, TV and theater. I always loved mentoring and I was interested in learning how the other side of the industry worked, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to try! I was right. 9 months later I was running the management company as my own and continued to do so from 2009 – 2014.
My years as a talent manager helped cut my teeth as a business woman with a creative soul. I learned the art of packaging a person as a product. I witnessed firsthand how unforgiving the entertainment industry could be. I supported my actors through the rejections and was right there to celebrate the bookings! During this time is when I started offering workshops for actors to teach them what I had learned about best practices for marketing yourself in the industry. It wasn’t long before I realized that MINDSET and STRATEGY is what I loved about working with my actors. The managing part I could do without.
In 2014 I left the management company to my business partner so I could focus fully on my Leadership coaching and speaking career. Since then, my career continues to be an evolution of who I am becoming as a speaker, a performer, an artist and a woman.
Stay tuned, because I’m just warming up…
Who or what inspires you most?
I am inspired by the unapologetic women in ALL industries, but female comedians definitely hold a special place in my heart. Chelsea Handler, Ellen Degeneres, Hanna Gatsby, Joan Rivers, Carol Burnett, Phyliss Diller – all of these women represent someone who knows who they are and have NO interest in changing themselves for anyone or anything. You don’t like it? Move along.
I am also inspired by the activists, the authors, the speakers who empower their audiences to stand up and be a force in this world. Gloria Steinem, Marianne Williamson, Elizabeth Warren, Glennon Doyle, Mel Robbins and Brene Brown to name a few.
Do you have a favourite experience from your career?
I am really enjoying this new evolution of my career as a motivational comedian. I feel like I’m getting a Masters degree in comedy as I spend my nights bouncing from comedy club to comedy club in NYC, watching the greats work out their material on stage. I watched Judah Friedlander, Judd Apatow, Michael Che and Sherrod Small get up and DO THE WORK all in the same night! There is something about stand-up comedy that puts everyone on the same level. The work is never done. The joke can always be funnier. The comedic timing. The crowd-work. The consistency. The comradery. It’s a fascinating world to dive into and it’s exciting to know that I’m just at the beginning of an exciting new chapter!
The greatest gift you can give yourself is the gift of PERMISSION. Go after that dream. Trust your intuition. Color outside the lines. Try something new. Try something new again. Mess up. Fall on your face. Get back up. Evolve. Try something new. Rinse, repeat. THAT is the stuff dreams are made of.