If you’ve been on the internet in the last year, you probably know Jenna Kutcher.
The photographer, Instagram pro, podcast host, and new mama has been everywhere this year. Over the past few years, Jenna has grown her small-town photography business into a million-dollar brand. But what we love most about her has nothing to do with her work: Jenna is real. Like, really real. Talk-about-infertility-on-the-internet real. And in a world where feeds are filled with perfectly-curated photos and captions, it’s a refreshing revelation we could all take notes on.
You’d think, given her resume, that Jenna would be one of those “stretched-too-thin, busy-all-the-time” types, but the truth is: Jenna has it figured out. She’s the queen of outsourcing, and she really does practice what she preaches: Focus on what’s important, and success will follow. Below, she talks about why.
You’re a photographer, podcast host, influencer, and condo flipper—you stay busy! What appeals to you about being an entrepreneur with your hands on a lot of projects, versus holding down one 9-to-5?
At the age of 23, I walked away from corporate America and I haven’t looked back. There isn’t a day that goes by where I’m not filled with gratitude the minute I wake up knowing that I get to do what I love (and do it from home in yoga pants) every day. I’ve always been a multi-passionate human being and so I always have a lot of projects on my plate but the diversity keeps me dreaming and creative and it forces me to work smarter not harder and make the right hires. Being an entrepreneur means I get to craft my dream life and I am lucky enough to get paid to do what I love. For me, time is my currency, not money, and so spending each day on things I enjoy means more to me than anything else.
Tell us a bit about your podcast, Goal Digger. What do you hope women feel when they listen to your show?
Oh, where do I begin? The Goal Digger Podcast started as an experiment and has turned into a show that gets over a million downloads each month. When I created the show, I wanted to create a workshop-style podcast where people can leave and take action in their life and business, so the podcast is a mix of tangible takeaways and inspiring stories of women who are out there living and working on their own terms and creating their dream lives (while being candid and honest about the behind-the-scenes mishaps, mess-ups, and mistakes!) I want people to see, learn, and hear about successful women so they can see their own potential reflected in the women who are out there doing it!
What’s been the biggest surprise or highlight of your career to date?
Truly, I’m looking at her right now. I recently had my first baby after a three year fertility struggle and I wasn’t sure how becoming a mom would impact my drive for business and work. For the past eight years, my business has been my baby and so I was fearful that I couldn’t do both. As my miracle babe sleeps next to me right now, I couldn’t love her more but I also couldn’t be more proud of the business I’ve built and will continue to grow. I am surprised at how natural motherhood feels to me, but how I still have that fire in me to do more, create more, and help more women rise up. I want to show my baby girl what’s possible for her and show her that you can be both an amazing mom and a career-oriented woman.
Congratulations on Baby Kutcher! You’ve been vocal in sharing your struggles with infertility, a topic that’s still considered taboo by many. What inspired you to be open about your experience?
I sometimes joke that I’m like Jim Carrey on Liar, Liar; I just can’t be inauthentic. Transparency to me is as easy as breathing air, and so sharing the highlight reel of my life doesn’t feel right if I don’t include the struggles, the hardships, those seasons of trial. Shying away from the hard feels so out of alignment for me and as someone with influence (heck, we all have influence), I want to start a dialogue about the things that a lot of us face behind closed doors and tell the whole story, not just bits and pieces of it. Opening up about my hardships or struggles has opened more doors for real community and relationships to happen online and if I need to be a voice to help others know they aren’t alone, then I will happily step up to the plate. My feed, my online journal isn’t just about marketing or perfect shots, it’s my legacy and you better believe my legacy story has bumps in the road that have made the triumphs even sweeter.
What about your job makes you feel the most fulfilled?
It’s the power of reaching one person that drives me. A lot of people look at the number under their name to measure their reach or impact and I believe in focusing on impacting lives one by one. If I can grow my following one by one, if I can impact one person with a caption, or inspire one person with an episode, I will make a bigger mark than if I focus on appealing or speaking to the masses. I don’t want to add to the screaming match of marketing or social media, I want to whisper the right message to those who are needing it. So each day I focus on connecting on a one-on-one level and pray that the ripple effect will reach all the people who are needing what I am putting out there.
Whose career really inspires you?
Joanna Gaines has really been a hero of mine for so many reasons. Not only is she undeniably exceptional at design, I admire her ability to set up boundaries to protect herself and her family. I love how she’s expanded and scaled her brand in so many directions without losing touch of her taste or who her customer is and how she’s clung to her faith in a way that inspires others. I believe that she’s proof that you can “have it all” and that it’s okay to step back in different seasons to realign with what’s most important to you.
Transparency to me is as easy as breathing air, and so sharing the highlight reel of my life doesn’t feel right if I don’t include the struggles.
If you could photograph any one person or event, who or what would it be?
Oh goodness, this is a tough one. There are so many powerhouse women out there that I would LOVE to photograph. One thing I never tire of documenting are love stories of power couples, the kind of couples who have their own passions and projects but also support and work together for a greater good. I am a giant fan of Michelle Obama, so I think doing a couples session with her and Barack would be so wicked special. I admire them so much as individuals and how they show up for one another in marriage!
You split your time between Minnesota and Hawaii. Why did you decide to buy property in Hawaii, and how does the split time affect your business? Do you work on specific projects in each home?
It’s true, we are lucky enough to spend three months out of the year on our favorite island, Maui. We own two condos, The Kutcher Condos, and enjoy them so much. When we aren’t on the island, we rent the properties out to our friends and followers and invite others to enjoy the spaces we intentionally created. Hawaii has been a really special place for us over the past few years. It started as a bucket list vacation, then we returned for our first month long sabbatical, and now we go there often to rest and relax.
It’s a grounding place for me, so when we go, we work very minimally and try to enjoy the island life and a slower pace. It’s a time for us to recalibrate and come together as a couple. I can be a workaholic because I love my job, so Hawaii is a place where I come back home to myself and dream! We have the absolute best of both worlds being close to family in Minnesota and enjoying the seasons and the beauty of Duluth and Lake Superior and then escaping from the cold to put our toes in the sand.
When you hit a bump or hurdle in your career, how do you find new roads + switch gears to find success?
I don’t consider anything a failure. I look at everything I do as an experiment that can yield results. I mess up often and encourage my team to mess up, too, so we can learn and grow and troubleshoot together. My mantra is that “busy is not a badge of honor” and so I love to systemize, strategize, and plan my work really intentionally so that when I am working, I am focusing on only the things that I can do and delegating the rest. I think it’s important to not take things too seriously and to remember that it’s okay to pivot and pivot often if something doesn’t go exactly how you thought it would. We are always learning, growing, shifting, and dreaming of what’s next and taking a good look at what’s been working, what didn’t quite work, and how we can serve the world better!
What are you most excited for in 2019, both in your personal life and in business?
Man, 2019 is going to be a year unlike any other. With the addition of our sweet baby girl, I knew that I wanted to really give myself time and space to settle into motherhood without the pressure of being on the road or having to commit to a lot of engagements… so I said “no” to just about everything and I have an entirely blank calendar for this year which I can fill based on what feels best for not just me, but my family. I’m putting my head down in new ways and focusing on The Goal Digger Podcast and serving my online community, two things I can do from the comfort of my own home, and then sneaking away to the island with Drew and Conley to enjoy this new season of life and to be as present as we can manage to be. I used to think of saying “no” as a negative thing but now I am reminded of how great it is to protect your best “yeses” and this year’s best “yes” is going to be family first and letting the rest fall into place! It’s going to be an amazing year!