About Jan Marie

When it comes to coaching, some people think coaches are supposed to have magical powers; some kind of transformational story where I discovered some “secret” and am living a life of pure positivity and success today.

That’s the guru story pattern we see a lot online, and I´d be lying to you if I tried to lead you in that direction.

The typical story pattern would have you believe that everything I´ve done in my life was purely strategic. That it happened in some kind of special order. Clear, linear, and, well, easy…that each step I took was based on some magical power that helped me stay positive, focused and confident so that I could build my own successful businesses, mentor hundreds of amazing women and live a brilliantly happy life.

The thing is…

that kind of linear story-line is seldom believable or realistic.

My story isn’t one of magical powers, but rather persistence. I didn´t find a magic pill…nor was I looking for one. I´m just an average American woman focused on taking a rather twisty-turning path to living the life I´ve always envisioned for me.

Success for me has little to do with big houses or expensive toys. I´m just an average woman who decided to define success on my own terms and do all I could to connect with and embrace my own inner brilliance – even when negativity and self-doubt got in the way.

My choice of college degree most likely would have had me sitting in some cubicle somewhere if I had chosen to follow it. In the end though, life had other plans for and I chose to be open to OPPORTUNITY rather than afraid of it.

I’m a woman who makes a living empowering other women to believe in themselves and be all they can be. I am married and have three amazing children, who are all grown up now. My husband and I live in a nice home at the foot of the Black Forest in Germany. We have a little mix-breed dog and one of my favorite things to do is to head out across the fields behind our house for some “me-time” and a walk in the woods. We travel a fair bit and I visit my family in California at least once a year. My office is where I decide to set up my laptop, whether that´s on my dining room table, at a coffee shop, out in the backyard or on the road.

I´m happiest when the sun is shining, I´ve got steaming coffee close to hand and I´m in creator mode, pursuing some new project. 

That’s my life. That’s who I am.

I love the flexibility of my life. I love supporting my coaching clients, guiding my students and creating value for my blog readers. I also love being able to do things during the “work week” without asking for permission. I love being able to create a life that´s right for me while helping others do the same for themselves.

But, there is a backstory. And there was some kind of path that led me to where I am today…

My First Jobs...And The Realization That Changed It All

My first job was working for Taco Bell while I was at college. I was a “closer” which meant I was responsible for making sure the restaurant was ready for the next day of business. Later, I “upgraded” to a job as a bank teller with Bank of America. Yep, I was the gal who took your money. 😉

In school, I was what people back then called a “brain”. You know, the “smart girl” who was introverted and not particularly pretty. Once I graduated and started college, I did manage to come out of my shell a bit though. And, as I dared to dream, the realization hit that the only way to follow those dreams was to believe in myself and that I had it in me to make those dreams my reality.

That realization intersected with a twist of fate when I was offered the opportunity to take part in an international exchange program for college students working in the banking industry and pursuing a dual BA in a foreign language and international business.

I really wanted to do this…and I was really scared about going abroad, living and studying on my own for 3 months – all alone.

Funny how the things we really, really want can wind up defining us.

College, Fear & Foreign Lands

So, yes. I went to college and got degrees in German and International Business at the California State University of Sonoma. During that time, I worked a variety of banking jobs from cashier at Sears to bank teller at B of A and weekend teller for a savings & loan in a supermarket up in Santa Rosa (the first of its kind, in fact). They weren´t the best jobs in the world but they weren´t the worst either. Most importantly, I had bosses willing to work around my school schedule. 

While I loved college, I didn´t ever really make many friends. And those friends I had tended to see me as someone to come to for advice and an empathetic ear.

As I continued studying German (I´d started in high school at the ripe old age of 11) and began learning Russian, the travel bug bit me…and it bit hard!

That´s when I started thinking a lot about spending some time abroad. And that´s also the time my fear and self-doubt reasserted themselves most. Every time I tried laying out a plan, those negative little voices inside my head came up with hundreds – no, thousands! – of reasons why I couldn´t, why I shouldn´t and why all of this was a terrible idea to begin with.

It took everything I had in me to face that fear head on and apply for the exchange program to work at a bank in southern Germany – not far from where I live now.  

It meant having to postpone graduation a year but I knew in my heart that this experience could change my life and, so I turned my back on the naysayers, stopped listening to the negative chatter in my own head and focused on taking one step at a time.

Applying for the position, planning my trip, getting my passport and the necessary paperwork together, finding accommodations…

The pride I felt in doing all of this on my own strengthened my determination to stand up to my fears and not let them get the better of me.

What can I say? I already knew I loved the language but working in southern Germany led me to fall head over heels in love with the country and its people, too.

That´s when I made a pledge to myself to go back for a longer visit next time.

After graduating in 1986, I began looking for a job that would take me overseas. Unfortunately, that wound up being far more difficult than I thought it would be – luckily, destiny had its own plans for me…

In 1987, a young couple I had met while working in Germany came to visit along with two of their friends I´d never met. One of those young men stole my heart and, after writing letters (so many letters!) back and forth for the better part of a year, I made the decision to pack up my things and move halfway across the world!

Amazing what we´ll do in the name of love 😉

4 Random Facts About Jan Marie

I always wanted to write children´s books and now I have several to my name. Visit my Amazon Author Page to have a look.

When I moved to Germany I vowed to learn to speak German like a native - and now I can speak dialect with the best of `em!

Cold, clear, sunny autumn days always put a smile on my face - even so, Christmas is my favorite time of year.

I am the co-founder of a small, German non-profit helping African children get the education they need for a brighter future. 

Diapers, Dolls & Dinner Prep – Is This All There Is To Life?

That’s the question I was asking myself nearly 10 years later as I watched my 3 small children fighting over a shovel in the backyard sandbox.

Back then, here in Germany, most women I knew were happy being stay-at-home mommies. And while I truly loved my kids and wanted to be there to raise them, I had started feeling less and less happy about myself and my life.

Something was missing and I didn’t know what.

I wanted so much MORE out of life but my self-esteem was at an all-time low and I used my kids as an excuse for not trying to change. After all, they needed me, right? Moms are supposed to do for others and push their own needs to the back of the line.

I didn´t know what I wanted to change but…

I did know I wanted MORE than I had.

I knew I was desperately unhappy.

And I struggled with keeping the monsters crowding my mind at bay.

Looking back now, I understand what a vicious cycle my life had fallen into.

Knowing how miserable I was making myself and wanting to help, my husband showed me an article about a local company looking to train native English-speakers to teach German kids English at a very young age.

Before our children were even born, I was committed to raising them bilingually and had spent years reading up on the best ways of doing this, then practicing what I´d learned with our kids.

The thought of being self-employed and having to market myself scared the living daylights out of me and I really had to scrape together my courage to give that company a call.

You know what though?

I absolutely loved teaching! Not only that, I was really good at it.

Marketing myself, however, was a whole different ball game - I hated it!

All kinds of self-doubt swirled around in my head. Panic gripped me every time I had to pick up the phone and talk to someone. 

To break out of that negative cycle, I decided I needed to begin thinking brilliantly

…feeding my mind with positive information, changing my thought processes one by one ~ from the inside out.

I decided to stop accepting the status quo and take responsibility for my future. I started and built up a successful business. I learned to reach out to people, ask more questions, stand up for what I believed and follow through on those beliefs. It took courage and required me to push outside of my comfort zone…and it was so worth it!

Improvement didn´t happen overnight, of course. In addition to all I was reading on language-, child- and brain development, I began reading everything I could find on marketing and mindset. Little by little, I applied what I was learning. And the more proactive I was, the better my results.

Over time, my reputation in the area grew and I was given the opportunity to begin working with an international educational group based in England as part of their teacher training team. I jumped at the chance without having to think twice!

During my years as a trainer and mentor throughout Europe, I continued to build first one, and then another, learning center to include a team of 6 teachers teaching more nearly 300 students.

How Success Lost Its Sparkle

I´d done it. I´d faced my fears and created success on my own terms. People looked up to me, I felt like I was doing something really worthwhile and I was being paid handsomely for it. 

Why then did I still feel something important was missing?

I was at the top of my game as trainer and mentor to hundreds of teachers from Hamburg and Warsaw to Basel and Budapest. I loved what I was doing but then a family crisis in the fall of 2012 pulled the rug completely out from under me.

My husband, the kids and I had just spent the summer with my parents in California and though my dad had complained about a constant stitch in his side, none of us thought much about it. He´d rarely been sick a day in his life and he seemed just fine. I told him it might be a good idea to go in for a checkup and, knowing how much he hated going to the doctor´s,  made my mom promise she´d make sure he did. Then, at the end of our stay, we hugged goodbye believing we´d see each other again the following spring.

But things didn´t work out that way.

To my surprise, dad really had gone to the doctor´s. But what he thought was a strained muscle turned out to be cancer and, less than 2 months after our visit, he was gone.

Without warning, all the balls I thought I´d been doing such a great job juggling

…came crashing down around me.

Setting Out In Search Of Me

I felt immeasurably sad…and lost. I began questioning what I was doing with my life and the path I was on. Is this what I really wanted?

There was no doubt I was successful but the question that kept running through my mind was: at what price?

I was always on the go – either teaching at one of my centers, supporting my teachers or giving seminars in yet another European city. Without the help of my husband and kids, there´s no way I could have achieved what I had.

And, yet…

I felt like I´d lost a part of me in the process – a realization brought to life by my father´s sudden death.

Perhaps it was time to stop. Just stop.

And that´s what I did – more or less.

I cut my schedule way back and started focusing more on me for a change.

I read books on awareness and presence, relationships and purpose…

If I didn´t want what I had, what did I want?

I worked with a coach to explore my feelings and help me find the clarity I so desperately felt was lacking in my life.

It was one of the most frustrating times in my life because I felt like I should know what I wanted but I just couldn´t grasp it. I searched everywhere, read more, scoured the internet, took part in seminars…and, every time, I came up empty-handed.

I was so tired chasing after answers, my head felt just about ready to explode.

I felt like a failure. And, I hated that feeling!

I´d always loved to write – had actually filled many a journal as a teenager - so I took writing classes that led to my starting a blog.

Pulling words together to share my thoughts and feelings soothed my soul and helped me think. I became more introspective and started looking more closely at what I thought about and was saying to myself.

That´s when I realized I´d let old habits and doubts get the best of me (again).

It was time to create a shift…a mindshift.

4 (More) Random Facts About Jan Marie

When I was younger, I loved to paint and I´m trying to get back into that now, though I´m pretty rusty. I want to try my hand at mixed-media art this time around... 

Also known as my little “shadow” because she follows me everywhere I go, our Chihuahua-Jack Russel mix Cinni´s full name is actually is Cinnamon.

When I´m not teaching, coaching or creating, you can find me tucked under a blanket on the couch, Cinni at my feet, enjoying a Nora Roberts novel. 

I absolutely love daffodils – there´s no “happier” flower! I´m also a diehard Beatles fan and Norwegian Wood is one of my favorite songs.

Brilliance Breakthrough

And I did that by looking closely at my beliefs about myself and my world, re-evaluating my core values, and using mindfulness exercises to silence the negative, anxious thoughts in my head. I also re-committed to taking little, consistent actions towards my goals, every single day.

In time, I was able to re-gain control over my thoughts and emotions, improve my self-talk and start believing in myself again. Clarity returned and it became so much easier to focus on doing what I needed to do to become the person I knew I had it in me to be.

Looking back, it all seems straight-forward now but it certainly didn´t feel like it when I was working my way through the process.    

If you´ve ever tried to silence the chatter in your head, kick negative habits or push past your fears to keep chasing your dreams, you know what a wild and frightening roller-coaster ride that can be.

Changing your life starts with awareness and mindset.

What you think directly impacts your choices and your action. And, without action there can be no change.

I knew I wasn´t alone in my struggles by any means. Everywhere I looked, there were women entrenched in the same battle. Women wanting to understand why they do what they do. Women tired of the negativity and wanting to feel better about themselves. Women wanting MORE out of life while struggling with how to go about it.

That´s when I heard my purpose calling…

Spreading Brilliance

(ThinkBrilliantly & The Brilliance Community)

Getting trained as a master coach in behavioral assessment and accountability was one of the best things I have ever chosen to do in my lifetime. Not only did it give me the skills I needed to support and empower other women to go after what they want most in their lives, it gave me many of the tools I´d been missing along my own life´s journey – a journey, I have since come to realize, never really ends.

Using my ThinkBrilliantly blog I share those skills and tools with you to help you think brilliantly about yourself, your life and the world around you.

Let´s work together to shift the way you think about yourself, your world and the people around you so you have the confidence to do, be and have what you most want in your life. To my way of thinking, that´s the best way to make this world a better place to live - for all of us!

We even have a Brilliance Community on Facebook created to help women like you, conquer indecision and negativity so you can tap into the inner brilliance that´s already there to be the truly amazing person you were meant to be.

Think of unleashing your brilliance like having a dimmer switch in your hand - you can turn that switch down and focus on the negative things in life

…or you can flip it all the way up and let your brilliance shine!

What you do, is completely up to you.

Two of my most valuable skills are in communication and teaching. I tend to have a knack for breaking things down and making them easier to grasp so you can take action on them. I use these skills to help transform lives.

Today, that is my mission. And Breakthrough To Brilliance Coaching coupled with ThinkBrilliantly.com are the mediums I use for doing it.

It comes down to this…

Several years ago, I decided I was in charge of the direction my life took and that how I thought and felt about myself was purely up to me. As easy as that sounds, it was not always that easy to do.

I know because I struggle with this on some level every single day.

But it can be done.

Some women choose to give into the self-doubt and fear. There are other women though who are committed to embracing the brilliance they were born with and using it to propel them towards a life of their dreams.

I’m here for those women. ThinkBrilliantly and the Brilliance Community are here for those women. And to the extent that you choose that path for your life, I am here for you, too.

So, welcome to my world! I’m so glad you’ve found your way here. I look forward to walking along side you as your journey unfolds.

4 (Even More) Random Facts About Jan Marie

As a teen, I collected frogs…I had more than 100 at last count (not real ones, of course!) 

Deep down, I´m very much a cat person (sssh, don´t tell my little dog!)

I love to sing in the woods! And when Cinni and I are out for a walk, that´s quite often what you´ll find me doing 😉

My daughter and I are both huge Disney fans…and my 2 twenty-something sons razz us about it ALL the time! 

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