We were lucky to catch up with Jennifer Hobson Gormer recently and have shared our conversation below.
Jennifer , appreciate you joining us today. Over the course of your career, have you seen or experienced your industry completely flip-flop or change course on something?
People have often asked me, how have I become so successful in my career and my answer is always that my success started at the ballet barre.
I started dancing at 2, became pre-professional at 15, and professional at 17 touring the company and dancing while a senior in high school and Honorable Mention in NFAA Presidential Scholar competition. I started my first business when I was 15 with help from my mother. As a ballet dancer, it was always known that your career was over after you left the stage (mid to late 20s) and most dancers did not go to college nor earned degrees. Modern dancers had a longer life span but still struggled financially in the 80s and 90s.
My U-turn was when my mother shared with me the average annual salary for professional dancers in the US (15k) in the early 1990s and declared that she wanted me to be able to take care of myself. My U-turn was also learning to use those invaluable transferrable skills as a professional dancer/Dance teacher to starting businesses and into Corporate America. I have learned that if you can teach dance to kids and adults, you can teach ANYTHING. I applied these skills in made my U-turn and created a successful consulting practice in corporate training and adult learning, program and talent management. The truth is… it’s ALL choreography and performance. The same way we prepare for a full length ballet or performance, the same process applies in corporate America. The same way learning cycle applied in teaching kids and adults to manipulate their bodies to do fantastic, unheard of movements and choreography, applies to teaching adults a new skills or task that leads to performance or change. It is the SAME process and skills. This is the ultimate U-turn.
More importantly, I have learned to operate in my gift and purpose and have applied best practices in running several successful businesses, remaining agile, and pivoting during U-turns throughout my life and career. Some call it “recreating yourself”. I call it building a career, always applying lessons learned from experiences and embracing U-turns. U-turns have led me to become a keynote, 3-time best selling author, academic and scholar, serial entrepreneur, and Sr. Learning & Talent Development Leader and Consultant who has successfully helped companies save or earn millions of dollars. In 2023 I will finish my PhD and join the illustrious short list of dancers who have achieved the highest level of education in my field. The U-turn brought me right back home. *wink
I welcome everyone, regardless of their field, gifts, or purposes to embrace U-turns.
Jennifer , before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
I am most proud of a dance career spanning 25+ years. I am most proud of national awards for dance and choreography. I am most proud of being accepted to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Certification Program in 1997 which was one of my bucket goals. I am most proud of being accepted to Spelman College, known as the best college for the best and brightest of black women in America.
I am most proud of raising successful, respectful, God-fearing children. I am most proud of my gift of perseverance and the many clients and families I have served in my businesses. I run into my dancers, their mothers, and my clients in my day-to-day life. I take pride in seeing my dancers on Broadway, dancing professionally, running dance studios, knowing I had a hand in their development.
Professionally, I am proud of my business acumen, my success in leading small and large teams, my successful track record working for Fortune 50s such as Southwest Airlines, Ericsson, AT&T, BeautiControl, CapitalOne, Caliber Home Loans, American Airlines, JP Morgan Chase, Deloitte, Sabre, etc. I am humbled by my success and look forward to the 2nd half of my career.
Let’s talk about resilience next – do you have a story you can share with us?
Resilience and perseverance are my strengths. What comes to mind is when I had purchased a dance studio while going thru a divorce. I made 2 mistakes: making such a huge decision at that time of my life and purchasing a business too quickly and not taking the advise from counsel and mentors. It was a costly mistake but I learned and persevered. Happy to go into more details but in short, entrepreneurs should complete due diligence in financial records but also in evaluating the quality of any business they are considering purchasing. They should also weigh the Pros and Cons of purchasing someone else company and the risk of inheriting existing issues or opportunities from the previous owner. Ironically, if it seems to good to be true, it probably is.
Any advice for managing a team?
Leadership is about putting your team first. Managing and leading are not the same. Serve your team by putting them first; managing a team means you come last.
Maintaining high morals is the result of effective and efficient leadership, setting expectations, demonstrating what we expect and always being willing to remove impediments and support your team’s growth. If you take care of your team, they will take care of you. A team is only as good as their leader.
- Website: https://jenniferjhobson.wixsite.com/portfolio
- Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/jennifergormer
- Twitter: @Idea2Profit
I own the rights to all images provided. If photographers names are needed still, I will provide upon request.