During this podcast, entitled How to Live an EPIC Life, I had the opportunity to interview Jennifer Willingham from EPIC Agency. She has stepped away from the typical persona of someone in her field to bring her faith and love for God into what she does every single day. Listen to her story about how she came to recognize the need for God in every part of her life. It will change how you think about combining your passion with your love of Jesus.
Jennifer has lent her publicity and marketing skills to many New York Times bestselling authors, A-list celebrities, well-known pastors, box office hits, musical artists, senators, a former governor, a former president, and other personalities of note. She steers the team’s overall campaign strategy and has, through the years, worked with almost every network, cable show, and national publication, with relationships spanning key TV, print, online, radio, and podcast outlets. Jennifer was formerly an Associate Publisher for Simon & Schuster, VP of Marketing/Publicity for Thomas Nelson, and cofounder of ICON Media Group. Along the way, she served at DeMoss, the largest faith-based PR agency in the world, and as a VP of Marketing for Guideposts. Jennifer’s expertise in strategic planning, campaign development, positioning, and activations enables her to lead a wide variety of efforts for EPIC’s client roster.
Where to Find Jennifer:
Show Notes: How to Live an EPIC Life
Truly amazed, truly blessed, truly just enamored, honestly, and I don’t think I’ve ever used that word to describe a guest, but Jennifer Willingham has this air about her, this unknowing, I don’t even know. It’s almost like an intrigue in who she is. And I think it’s because it’s so counter-culture to how people in her industry typically are. And I say in her industry, and that’s what makes her so beautiful, is in the publicity, in the publicists, in the marketing, in the publisher, that kind of realm, you have this certain persona that you tend to meet.
And Jennifer is so different than that. I love her story. I love how her faith and her God are first in all that she does. But it took her a really hard moment, being handed a Bible covered in blood that made her recognize this. And I don’t say blood figuratively. I mean it literally. You’ll have to listen to this interview. It’s absolutely amazing.
If you are new to the community, you can text me. I would love to hear your thoughts about the episode. You can subscribe and review, and share that there, too. But texting is so much more fun because I get to respond back, but the review helps too. So all the things, if you would do it, I would be so appreciative. My cell phone number is 757-906-3734. Yes, it’s me. Yes. I’ll respond as soon as I possibly can. And I’m so excited to be in deeper community with you guys in this special way. Again, tune into all things Jennifer Willingham and I’m so excited to introduce her and just let you hear a deeper story about, again, humanity, and what it is that we’re passionate about.
She takes really care of what she says and what she’s implanting in this time is so good for the entrepreneur, as well as the writer and the author and the blogger and just anybody who’s pursuing their faith. So I hope that’s you. I think that’s why you’re here. Enjoy.
Hello. Hello. You guys we’re so excited to be live here with you today, but more importantly, I am so excited to be spending this dedicated time with Jennifer Willingham. It is such a gift. I was reading your bio when I first got connected with you, and I was just blown away by the versatility in it, the access areas that you’ve had the opportunity to be alongside of who you’ve been with, but not only who, where and how.
And so I think it’s such a critical winning story and I’m sure that there’s a lot of components of hardship. And so that’s a cool part about the Fit in Faith Podcast. If you are new to joining us, we like to dive deep into the truths of our testimonies in order to illuminate the life that exists in our now- in our right now, knowing, too, that there is an always becoming story and journey and evolution of us being less than now and the perfection really being our heavenly father.
So, Jennifer, I just want to give you the floor, introduce yourself, tell everyone about your amazing bio. And thank you so much for being here.
I’m so grateful to be here. Happy New Year to the first podcast of the New Year. This is exciting. Start by saying that I hesitate to even say anything about, quote, my accomplishments because they’re not mine. So I can’t do any of this under my own strength. And so it’s just that recognition really enables everything that I do that our team at Ethic Agency based organizations, and it’s only through the Lord’s Providence that I’ve been in some of the rooms and conversations and also the things that I’ve been in.
And I want to use all of that help today, sort of harness some tools they might have thought were out of reach or they couldn’t afford, especially some solo producers out there. Maybe you were just starting out on this journey. They listened to you for your opening and your great coaching, Tamra. But I really want them to walk away today knowing it’s a brand-new year and anything is possible for those who believe. I love that so much and definitely for now, like seasonal explanation of freedom and realizing that you can get activated today and it’s not by our act, but by his grace and mercy that we have the freedom to be able to do so if we can start our day.
I’ve been in in the clubhouse that for what feels like 24/7 over the course of the last five days, though, I know a lot of people are anxiously awaiting their invite and we want to give them to you. So as soon as they release them, you’ll get yours. But is we’ve been talking about the morning, the rise and grind, if you will. And while I’m not a huge proponent of the hustle, hard understanding, I do believe that there’s an activation that takes place.
So talk to us about where your activation happened within your own life. When did you realize, like this was the next step? When did a vision come to you or a prayerful moment of accessing? This is what I need to do.
What the funny thing is, I don’t know that I realized it until about 10 years ago. So I’m walking in this same career that I just sort of fell into. And now looking back, I didn’t fall into it. It was pretty easily. Now, in hindsight, of course, I see the hand of the Lord guiding me all the way through, thank goodness. So my story actually started in 1973 when I was born to a single unwed mother, gave me a third option.
And so I went into my parent’s home Christians and they put me in a private school. I had ever wanted any of it, seriously. I mean how many of us can raise our hands ago I really didn’t take all my advantages too seriously until much later in life. I didn’t recognize them for what they were. And so I was a publicist at a Christian publishing company and one of the largest in the world and was really successful was a marketing VP.
I really done a lot by the time I was twenty-nine or thirty and I was always I think your listeners will love this. I was always the only girl in the room. I was always the youngest and it took me a while to be comfortable with that. And then once I, once I and I didn’t try to control it. I didn’t try to remind everybody I was the youngest only girl in the room or the only female VP. I just walked it out and I just did my job with excellence because I knew that it mattered for everybody behind me.
So ten years ago, I was in what people thought was a dream job and I was winning at work, but I was failing at home. So for me, it took a sort of a tragic car wreck to put back into a grateful mindset and realized that I had to do things his way or not at all. And so I quit my job and my husband. Are you crazy? But also because I was never home. And then that’s when I entered agency life.
And so I work for a good friend of mine and learn sort of the ropes in the agency world, so to speak, that I launched three of my own, one of which was not successful. And I love, honestly, Tamara, the failure stories more than I love the success stories. I think we learn way more through the failures and the struggles than we ever learn on the mountaintop. And so fast forward to about 18 months ago we launched a brand new agency, wish I had known that it was going to happen before we launched a business.
Yeah, but we’re really blessed us. And so we let our revenue goals. We started with a small staff and now we tripled that staff through a really challenging year. And so I have three steps to how we got there. And if you guys want to dive into that, I’m happy to share.
Jenn, before you do, it sounds like your mike might be a little bit blotchy. It’s like cutting in and out a little bit.
I’m not sure if it’s your hair or it could be. Let’s try that. Is that any better? It does sound better. Yeah. I have so much hair. It’s so amazing. I wish I had your hair. I have to put, like, this fake bun thing in in order to make it work. But I, I oh it’s still Botchy.
I really want everybody to be able to hear and they’re going to go well. Let me sit down with those guys, stand by and OK, they’re with. God, I love doing these things live …Hold on, it looks like her network might be cut now for those who are still still in tune with us, we are here on the Fit in Faith Podcast, which you might have seen in the new video that came out. It’s a brand-new cover photo for season three or so, excited about creating the brand of our entire business also into the podcast and being able to coach with people as well.
Let’s hear. Jen, are you live and in action?
I think we’re better at a network connection. OK, good. It sounds good. All right. So we want to hear the four things. Yeah, so there’s things that we did this that really enabled our success, and it was what I call the three P’s, it was focusing on our purpose and our processes so purposefully I probably should have led with first purpose is really I would is given our passion to view and reinvest in our people. We choose our team.
And then also this year, we had it down on our focus. We knew things were going like like everybody. We had our ups and downs, especially as a new business. And so it really was great for us in hindsight because we doubled down on refining all the processes in our systems and tried to get as much efficiency as we could while delivering the best results. And I think those are, in hindsight, the three reasons why we were able to smash the revenue goals and triple the business.
So incredible. I think a lot of people are coming in here listening as entrepreneurs, especially within the business sector that the Fit in Faith Podcast has taken on. But I really want to go back to the key component of your personal testimony, because I feel like everything that we do and earn and receive out of blessing is because of the cultivation that we do out of the first ministry, which is our home and our self, our being. And so when you took that step back 10 years ago, talk to us about what that season look like.
I know letting go of titles and letting go of different things can be really difficult. I’ve done it myself and my own life. I talk about it here a lot. So I loved the parallel. And so I’d love to just hear about that. From your perspective. I think for me, even though it was personally gratifying to be going and doing some really fun things that felt important when I would get home at night after our two little girls were asleep and I didn’t get to see them at all that day because I left before they got up.
I got home after they went to bed and my husband was really carrying the burden. Thank goodness he was there.
It there was a series of conversations that took place within our home, some with my kids into the husband and I. And I knew that I was supposed to leave that job, but I could I couldn’t bring myself because if I left the job, I thought, what was I working so hard all these years to climb this invisible ladder? Why was on this rat race? What would it all have been for if I just threw in the towel? And also, I never I never want to say things are too hard, so I will stay in there to the very last minute and do the work to see if it can be salvaged.
And so I’m not a quitter. I love to start things more than a finish, but I’m not a quitter. And it was really hard for me to admit that I needed to step away. But when I had a wreck in which two teams and the opposing car, they’d lost control hit me head on in my lane, they were killed. It really took a moment for me to go, OK? I was literally praying in the car before that happened about what should I do with my life?
This was a misfit. I should do something else, Lord, direct me, and then had that accident. And so even that was a really hard time in our life, our community life. The kids were members of my daughter’s school system. Some good things came out of that. And so the thing that really hit home, though, Tamara, and just this will be a little emotional, so I hope I can get through it. When we when we went to the salvage yard and the car obviously totaled to get my belongings, they had gathered everything up.
That was sort of just this mangled wreck of whatever the belongings were and where they picked him up and took them to one place. So he told me what they thought was where my belongings. And so I was taking this box. Oh, and here’s your Bible. They had to be this Bible that was really worn and it had looked like it had been through a war. There was road dirt on it, oil, grime, blood was on it.
It felt so heavy in my hands. They handed it to me. And I realized it was not my Bible, it was one of the teenagers who had been killed, his Bible and the irony of it, I was a Christian publishing. I didn’t have a Bible in my own car. So but that moment, the gravitas of that moment of realizing that I wasn’t really living out what I was pretending to live out really made me re-evaluate everything. So that was the moment where I was like, I am done resisting you, Lord, I am.
I’m done. And so from that day forward, I have been more cognizant of that, if any. What are the gifts and talents that he gave me? What should they be used for? How can I advance the kingdom? And so I’ve sort of rededicated myself these last 10 years to firstly taking care of my primary job as a wife and a mom to now our three girls. And then secondly, giving everything I can give sort of at the office, but in a little bit more measured way.
Gosh, that’s so, so good. I feel like the power of that moment is probably something it’ll definitely last for you forever more. And it was similar in the way that I feel, whether it wasn’t a crash per say, it was a personal crash and burn. But similar scenario where my husband was holding the load of our home while he was parenting too tiny. I could even have conversations really with my babies when we were walking through the season that I was working 50, 60 hours a week trying to cultivate two businesses and seeing one really thrive and one that was really starving and feeling like if this one thrived and this one would come to life and really just working myself to the grind while completely just letting go of all the things that I knew in my heart and I had prayed for since I was a little girl, but truly not knowing or being in full relationship with who God is, not just this figurative being, not just this person.
Like I’m not a puppet. He doesn’t take us. And that’s not how life works. That’s not how or why he created us. And so the component of free will was really at play and the enemy was really the one who was pushing me into like a pond type scenario. If you’re thinking of a chess game, it’s like good versus evil, white versus black. And he’s like, I’ll play this move now. I’m in your way. What are you going to do?
And oftentimes I was choosing the wrong action. If I was to look at it from a I call them green lights versus red lights. Thank you to my child’s kindergarten teacher is always like we don’t talk about good or bad decisions because your children are not bad. They’re learning. We say green light, red light, and we’ve taken that to heart in our home. I think about it in my business all the time because it’s so much more freeing because at a red light, you know, it’s going to turn green eventually versus when it’s bad.
You think it’s always wrong. And so that applies to so many things that at the time God closes the door. And it doesn’t mean that one day it won’t be open for good later. But we have to be cognizant and eyes open and armor on and desirable, like willing if we’re not planted in the truth, which is the word, which is that Bible that was handed to you, you essentially needed to be woken up and I needed to be woken up.
And when I drove into that that driveway and saw my little girl walk away from me when she was wobbling, she was barely one. And I had just done nursing. I knew that was a trigger moment for me that I’ll never forget, similar to that Bible exchange. But there was so much more at stake than just her walking away from me. It was my marriage was like being done. It was both businesses failing. It was so many things.
But I love it goes full circle to how we started. Like there is never a learning lesson outside of quote unquote a failure. It’s just an opportunity for us to rise and to take inventory of what we were what we were taught. That’s very true, and I think that as women and I think men face the same thing, maybe it’s not as comfortable being talked about. I think as women, we’re we’re doing so many things in serving so many roles at the same time that oftentimes we can get out of whack.
And so I think it’s really important for us to continually I think the New Years, honestly, a good time to do that is to re-evaluate where you are. Does your goal is exclude your family and personal life? Because I think looking at your goal list, if you’ve made one for the new year, is really telling, because what you set your sights on in your terms of your goals really speaks to the condition that your heart’s in. And so if your goals are all about revenue and margin and there’s nothing about health, wellness and relationship, then you’re probably out of balance.
Yeah, that’s so good. I talked I actually wrote an article for Bible and Pop Culture magazine. Are you familiar with them? It’s a new publication as of I think early last year they launched and MIA, the the owner of that is just she was a professor down in Hawaii that then took that idea to life with her students later on and fully acknowledged that she didn’t know she was going to be stepping into. But I wrote an article about balance and how I feel like often it’s like this fictitious space or this fictitious desire.
I was a gymnast for 16 years, so Balance Beam was always my favorite. And I felt like I strive for that in every area of my life as that. And it was, though, a facade because ultimately I felt like I was never fully on par. And so I’ve really since coming into my faith and getting my ordinations license and really just standing in a year of worship alongside of schooling that I was in, I I’ve just found that alignment is more the place that we can come into understanding of what that means every single day versus having this balance where you feel like at any point I’m unbalanced, like I don’t want to live a life of on balance.
I also don’t want to live a life of spiritual misalignment or physical misalignment, because every time that happens, something is got to give and take. Right. And so I think it’s Graceville to understand that sometimes there’s going to be seasons where your business is going to get more energy. It’s going to get more than what you you kind of shocked yourself up to have based on the season that your business is in. But what about your family in that regard and what about your physical space in that regard?
And there’s got to be an end date if your business takes off, if your family has a trial, if you realize that your marriage is taking a backseat, then your business has to go somewhere because you can’t have all of them in perfect unison all the time. So even if my goals this year, one of the things we wanted to get back to was having our weekly date nights and during covid that all just went away and then we just never got back on track with it because technically covid still here.
But restaurants are open and movie theaters are open and we can go for a walk or car ride if we want. But I told my husband this morning when he was asking me what’s on the line up for the day, because he always gets excited for me to know what’s coming up. And I told him about our podcast and getting to spend time with you. But additionally, I was like, oh, and I’m getting a babysitter for Friday’s date night.
And he was like, look at you. And I think that was like a surprise element to a conversation that usually just is all about work. That’s so you spend your time.
How have you continue to invest in your children, in your home and your face first?
Yeah, the so important to to think what you said about the season that you’re in and recognizing that it’s not forever is crucial and then not saying that you can have everything, just not at the same time. I really believe that that’s true. You can have it all, whatever it is, just not the same time. And so for me, when I entered agency life, I started working from home as opposed to driving to a corporate office. And I would go to, first of all, a living in Nashville and I would drive to Atlanta once or twice a month for that agency.
But then when I started my own agency, I was Nashville based. And so other than traveling to do things with clients or in films that serve for lunches or premieres, I was really home a lot. And so for me, that seems great, right? If you don’t work and a lot of people didn’t understand working until it hit last year.
So true, if if you’re a workaholic like I used to be and still struggle with, I’m trying not to claim that over myself anymore. If your office is three seconds away, it never goes away. And so even ten years ago, there was a little bit more separation, I think, than we as a society have now. I didn’t have a great smartphone. I, I had a BlackBerry maybe 10 years ago, but now I think my work to bed with me, like literally I’m literally doing stuff until midnight.
So I have to be very intentional about deciding what I want to get done every day, like an action plan that’s holistic, not just an action plan for, oh, here’s my task and basecamp that I have to do for the business, but I have to have a Ginnifer Action Plan that encompasses my devotional time in the morning. Am I going to exercise today or is that going to be a tomorrow thing? I know I can’t do it every single day based on the existing priorities and responsibilities that I have.
So I have to sort of prioritize that. And then it’s always the first thing to go, by the way. And it also I think there’s meal prep and planning, which I’m terrible at. So most of the the cooking and cleaning at our house is the. So is this really interesting schedule. So I know that if I don’t plan everything for the day, I’m going to be worthless. The easy thing for me to do is to default into work and so lose myself down that rabbit hole.
The harder thing is to be a full person, be present in the day, have meal exchanges with my family. I have two teens and a four year old. So I sort of have this really interesting spectrum of ages. And so for me, being fully present for them means something really different for the teen girls than it means for the four year old. And then having time for Andy and I as a couple is the most challenging season that we’re in because our four year old doesn’t like to sleep in her room.
So I have to have an action plan, Tamara, for all of that. Or I would literally hole up in my office 15 hours a day. So good.
I know a good sleep coach, if you need one. She’s amazing. And I just don’t think I’ve had similar struggle. And I’m like, is it OK, though?
Because eventually they’re not going to even want to be in the same house as me sleeping in. So I’m just taking it for what it is. And my and she was like, no, that’s not the way it is. And that’s partially that connectivity for my husband. I told him, I’m like, I feel like I can, like, snuggle with you in the morning because this kid’s like right here. I, I’m not even sleeping well, like, there’s so many pieces to it.
So you’ve got to check out Pam with Fruitful Families Coaching. She’s amazing. I think if we began a listener on who has been a previous podcast guest, which is actually how we got connected, Trevor, he’s incredible and he is the real Wonder Woman. And it’s pretty amazing all the things that you have been doing. But I love how you started the show without ever even opening up the video and just saying it’s all because of him and by him and through him.
And that ultimate knowing. I’d love to know. Did you end up giving that Bible to that child’s family or. Yeah. So the company where their cars were brought to, I wound up in the Bible back and saying, oh, this is not even mine. And I think I was sobbing. And so they said they would handle that transaction. And so. I actually don’t have a Bible in my car today, but I do have it on my phone, so I feel a little bit more at peace with how I am these days in relation to putting faith first.
Yeah, I really love that. So talk to me now then, knowing these different pieces of alignment that we can stay within and what you have done since that time. What is it like looking forward? Where are you growing? Where are you trying to focus in on? We’re here in the New Year anyway, so let’s talk about the goals. Is there a word that’s been pressed into your heart? How do you approach the freshness of what this kind of means?
So I think that’s the big question, a good question.
And I think for me, I’m struggling between which word I’m going to really sort of lean into this year. And so the words are create my work with the other word or inspire. Those are the two words. I had to check it out real quick. So I’m trying to figure out which of those I think the Lord is calling me to this year. And it’s sort of evenly split. And the challenge that I’m having, which is really a weird challenge to have, is we are at the place where the challenge is not attracting new clients or growth for growth sake.
The challenge that I have is which of the projects and the people that are lining up. Wanting to work with us should be us, too, and so it’s almost the reverse application process, which sounds really amazing. Right. And that’s something a publicist would say about her business. Totally true. And it’s actually a really humbling place to be in because I don’t want to mess it up. And so the Lord has so many projects out there that we could easily be a part of and easily help give life to and help lift heavy lift from the ground up.
But which of those things is they calling us to? Because we’re not called to everything, because then I can’t serve anyone in such a piece that I’m that feels very weighty to me. And so we know we have three big films coming up this year. I know I’ve got probably 60 or 70 books we’re launching. I know that we have lots of nonprofits that we’re working with and so our team collectively can do all those things and do them well.
But I’m also looking at it from a perspective. So as our company has grown, my role has changed. So I’m still trying to process what my day to day will look like in the New Year. And it’s really important to me that I’m connected to everything that we do at EPIC. And so that’s that’s really where the rubber meets the road for me is how do I still stay connected even at the size we’re at? And I really don’t want to grow any bigger, but how can we still meet the need that is out there?
Because everybody needs service in the way that we do and I wish everybody can have it. So I do want to say to Sammara. I believe that your listeners have a mindset issue. I believe they think that they can only hire out branding or they can only hire out marketing, they can only hire out PR. And that is so not true. There are steps every single one of your solar producers want to Panurge business owners can do today to publicize their business and use what is one of the most closely held secrets in the entire marketing sort of industry.
And that is being your own publicist. So I just want to say to the person out there listening, saying, I don’t know the first thing about that, that trust me, it’s not rocket science. If I can do it, anybody can do it. And if they’re interested in learning how to be their own publicist, I have a great free God. This is not some gimmick thing to come up. They’re so awesome. We we are not going to send them lots of emails at all.
But I really want people to harness and use their own ingenuity, their own brain, find what is newsworthy about their business and do two things for me. Stop selling your product. You’ve got to sell the solution. You’re never going to get anywhere just selling your book or selling your business, or you’ve got to only focus on what solution you give. And then I want them to stop believing they can’t do it. Mindset is more important than anything else.
And as a coach, you totally know that. I do.
I hear it all the time and it doesn’t even matter what which component of action that keeps them held back. But ultimately it comes into that space of confidence. And I believe it’s the confidence because they’re less than mindset or comparison mode, because of the access that we have to what seems like everybody’s perfect highlight reel. Right is is a lie. And it takes that person and I love this analogy. I remember where I first heard it, but like, we all have to put our pants on the same way.
Like, there is no, like, different opportunity. Like, you do it. I do it. The president does it. The most famous person you can think of does it. A child does it the same way. And so it’s us recognizing that it’s us just stepping into that next pant leg that allows us to wear it, to wear it. Well, I mean, if I got dressed in the dark and I have gone to the gym several times with either my pants completely inside out or like the crotch line is on the other side or like completely backwards.
And I do my for a spot and I’m like, what’s going on? Thank goodness for bathrooms and a women’s gym, realizing that it’s OK. One to say I messed up and two, to ask for help and three, to just literally take the next minuscule step. And I love that you gave them the freedom to realize that they actually can be their own publicist today. It’s not do these five action steps and then you’ll get to do it right now.
And this new app that I was mentioning before, I have already booked like nine more podcast guests in the last twenty four hours in the realm of the bracket that I’m hoping to bring to life to you guys this year. And so you can do it, you just have to literally reach out to them.
So many people think, oh, I only have seventy followers, I just started that person would never be on my podcast. I’m just going to stand from afar and admire them. But how much more humbling is it when you get to actually ask them and they say, sure, I’d be honored. And you just arrived there stunned, right? You’re so right. And I think people the thing that I’ve noticed in business and I’ve been in business, big corporate business for twenty six years, they always think they’re going to arrive at a point where they feel comfortable owning whatever success they have.
And that never happens. Never does it happen. Because the thing is, competence does not necessarily breed confidence. So I want your listeners to understand that, that doing the best they can do is never necessarily going to take away that imposter syndrome that they feel in their head. Right. It’s them knowing that that may never go away for you and that that mindset is keeping you back from just trying to think is really freeing. And so somebody out there today needs to hear that again, competence does not breed confidence necessarily.
So do it afraid. Do it anyway. But you’ve got to do it. Yeah.
And it’s that ripple effect, right? That’s the whole logo of CORE Creatives of CORE Talk. It’s that of that ripple.
Knowing that you might think that you’re still limited in your reach based on a number that is a vanity metric. And yet you just like Abraham, which somebody spoke this into my life the other day and I’ll forever be changed by it. He did not know the number of stars in the sky. He couldn’t count them all. And that’s how many descendants that’s how many people were going to prosper based on his choice, based on his free will, based on his love, based on his covenant with God.
And so it’s the action and the recognition that you’re one step might affect generations to come simply by saying yes today. And that’s the that’s the freedom factor of it all, is that you don’t have to do this massive, grandiose thing, even if you desire that and you never actually get to it. It’s the process that is actually what people are honored and humbled to watch rather than, like you said, standing on the on the pedestal and like, cheers, cheers.
I made it like, who cares? That’s really cool.
But I want to know about the hours of work that Michael Phelps put in. I want to know about the seven million calories every single day when he spent that many hours in the pool like that to me is the story. So I love that that keeps coming up in our conversation.
It’s so true. I mean, there’s never a final destination because enough is really never enough for some people. And so where do you draw the line? And the thing that you were just reminded me of is to my favorite one of my favorite clients. I have a lot of favorite clients, but the brothers who are filmmakers and they’re known for their films like War Room and Overcomer and Courageous are proof and facing the Giants. They were just Pasteur’s right.
And I don’t mean that any sort of derogatory way, but they had a vision that they thought they just needed to make this little movie for their church called Flowerdale. And that little step of obedience to the Lord, nudging them to do turn into the smash success and what has been a twenty year filmmaking career. And they never set out to be filmmakers. They set out to preach the word. And so when you think about how these two guys from Albany, Georgia, now with their third brother, Shannon, involved, three brothers from a little town, smells bad, to be honest, in Georgia.
No offense, anybody was there, but their movies have been seen in like eighty something countries by millions and millions and millions of people. And there have been so many, probably hundreds of thousands of declarations for Christ because of their faithfulness. I mean, come on, Tamara, it’s what do you tell your listeners? What is your audience trying to do? Antonia, it can’t look any more unlikely than some kids from Albany, Georgia, who are pastors making some movies so good.
It’s so good. And there’s that exact verses like it’s a mustard seed of faith. It doesn’t have to be the massive, grandiose. And while there are people, I’m raising my hand because I am a huge dreamer. Like I literally have clients come to me because they’re like when I come to you, I feel ignited towards the bigger vision. I never even imagined that my saying this one thing or my thinking that I will make this little church video could be like that.
But that’s what I love. That’s where I love to stand in that dream state. But then actually activating those people into that space of you can do this. Here are the steps to get there is the realization factor that your dream has legs and it’s a matter of you literally just like speaking it out loud, I found that that’s one of the biggest things of transformation for people, because that helps cultivate that confidence is when people come into a collective room and actually say, your dream out loud.
First, get in the mirror and say, this is what I see for myself. And it’s to know that these little dreams and passions and ideas, they’re only planted from God with purpose. And it’s not imposter syndrome and it’s not a lack of it’s not out of greed. It’s not out of pride. If you stay humble in that space of. Knowing that it’s by him and through him that those things will be built, but it’s the cart before the horse and it’s you taking that change, that car accident that you had and the recognition that, oh, my goodness, if I don’t put this Bible that has now been lifted in my hands in front of everything that I do, it is going to end up in the backseat of my car and maybe I’m the one in the accident next.
And it’s nothing against those children’s lives. Those children’s lives literally have now impacted so many in so many different ways, I’m sure. Yeah, that is so true. And I think what you’ve said is really important. And that’s what what I love about my job is I get to come alongside people who may have some fishes and loaves and they have one little tiny idea. But when I see it, I’m like, wait, there’s this for you in here.
We can raise your arms up during the battle and let’s do this thing. And so I think sometimes it takes teams of people to bring there’s a reason why Jesus called 12. I mean, it takes a team to get some of these big things accomplished. And so I love, love, love, one of the greatest joys, seeing people’s dreams birthed into into reality. And I get to see it every day in my favorite projects are the underdog projects, the people that were most likely to not succeed.
Then they have this huge thing mean those are the because the reason why I love those is. They were not. Anybody’s most likely to succeed candidate, right? I know that those things are where God has for sure breathed on them because it wasn’t because they were smarter, we were smart. It’s because he made it happen. And those, to me, are the most edifying things to be a part of. It’s so true.
That’s so good. And I love the symbolism and the imagery of of Moses with Erin and her in his arms and the standing of to the sky because it truly is. And it was honestly in my activation as an entrepreneur where I told you how I was prior to when I finally released the control of the building of something grandiose. I still have that global vision then. And I literally tried to do it by myself. I had team members and I would say I do this one thing, but I’ll control it once you’re finished with it.
And it’s the release of that in this second season. I call it my my comeback story, right. I had my quarter life crisis and then I’ve come back to life and it’s this knowing that I literally cannot do one thing in my life fully well, one without God being involved. We know that, but without the people that he is gifted beside me. And so it’s another activation point and realization and recognition factor for those of you who are listening to, say, who has God already positioned before me and how can we resource one another’s gifts and talents in order to bring to life something that is bigger than me.
And it should always be bigger than you, because if it’s just for you, then it’s what is it for? It’s really not it really doesn’t exist, I don’t think, because then it is selfish and greed and pride. And so I always have this fresh vision of myself and my end of myself in a mirror in that beautiful exchange experience with God and those arms wide open, hands wide open, because I believe that anything that he gifts us in response to our activation should be freely able to either be taken by the person who needs it, who’s in close proximity, enough to take it, whether out of great pride or goodwill, or that he needs to take it to be used for something else.
So whether that’s money, whether that’s an access point for a friendship, whether it’s a platform, whatever it is, I mean, you guys, you could build tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of followers, but tomorrow Instagram could crash. And so what have you done in your life today to actually breed real human connection, real human hearts, and then to go out and spread what is supposed to be the good news and and done it well, that, like, you will feel comfortable if you got in a plane crash, if something happened, like tragic if your car crash happened and you were, would you be able to say at that time in your life that you were putting the Bible first?
Yeah, for sure, not for not I mean, I think I thought it was like, yeah, but I think it was more pretending until things got really real and then, of course, things transpired from there. But I think what you just said is so amazingly true. And I love I can see your energy and I can see why people listen and watch this podcast. I can see why you’re doing so well as a coach. I mean, I think that you truly love changing people’s lives, don’t you?
It makes me so happy. Get out of my seat right now and jump around. I can see it. I see it in you, girl. I see it go. Thank you so much. And it’s so cool that you get to have that parallelled experience in a bigger way. But it’s not in a comparison factor, just the where you are and what has positioned alongside you. And so with ethic and all things going on in your life right now, like how can we be in community with you?
Well, how can we serve you as a community? How can we support you?
I would love honestly just to meet some of your audience. So, I mean, feel free to drop me a line at our website and get my email from there. I mean, I also covet prayers for steadfastness and covert prayers for wisdom. And I think all of us, we are one big body. And so I think it’s so crucial that we lift each other up continually, especially when we head into what looks like another year full of challenges that we can’t control, that we can’t predict.
And so it’s really going to take all of us. I mean, acting is one. And I hope that if adversity has done anything in the last little bit that it’s taught us that we need each other. And so I’m looking forward to twenty, twenty one being more in community with people who are doing things big, small and in between and trying to be whatever it is the Lord is calling me to be in their life, to be a friend or an encourager or maybe someone to speak a word of warning to them.
Like, wait, maybe you want to do it this way instead. I’m just looking to be obedient. Yeah, I love that.
And I think already, just from this conversation, that inspiration, that one word that inspire has definitely taken root. And the creation phase is everything that you get to do on a daily basis. I’m excited to see you do both of them this year, not just one, but I want to ask because I know audience members are listening and I have this time with you.
So I’m going to ask on my behalf of myself is if you want to be recognized by publicists or to pitch, what is the differentiating factor in your inbox or in your line of sight if somebody was to come into community with you?
Well, I think thinking about it, if I was the business person or entrepreneur who wanted to really do the right thing and be their own publicist, which they have, there’s that resource they can grab at our website. I think the email subject line is crucial because if it’s not a great subject line, people are never going to open the email. And so we would struggle with that. Even with relationships I’ve had with the same producer for twenty plus years, she’s not going to open a lame subject email for me until she gets time.
And what if she doesn’t get time? What if she doesn’t come back to it? And so I think that that’s important. But I also think that most business owners don’t understand the power of the media. And so if you can take an aspect of your business that is newsworthy, maybe just to your local area, maybe there’s a seasonal aspect to your business or a service that you offer and then put that in the framework of it being a solution to a problem.
Then you have an evergreen pitch, my friend. And so then you become an interesting and newsworthy guest for radio and for TV or them to read an article about you. So if you don’t know this, you need to hear what a listen to what I’m saying very carefully. When you read a newspaper, which I don’t know who reads newspapers much anymore. Eighty percent of what you see in a newspaper is the result of a pitch from someone like me.
People hear that they don’t believe me. I’ve got twenty six years that can honestly attest to you that that is 80 percent of that news is all placed there for purposes of marketing or selling something. Only the arrest record, the weather and maybe like one other little column in your paper. Maybe those are all real things. Everything else is people trying to sell you stuff. The change the media is going through now is a perfect time for people to harness their return on investment.
You’re doing it for yourself. It’s free. It is your time. It’s sending some emails and doing it well. So if you can just do that, here’s what can happen for you. I post one interview eighteen years ago, maybe nineteen years ago now on the Today Show for this family who had had seven babies at once, they were called the Makkawi septuplets. They reran and caught up with those septuplets every year on their birthday for 18 years and.
Looking now, calculating that if we had to have bought that airtime, National Air Time, it would have cost hundreds of millions of dollars, what it kept getting that coverage every year for free. Wow.
If you think about that, I truly believe and I do it all marketing everything. But I really believe that publicity is the best money that you can spend on your business. And if you’re doing it yourself, you’re spending nothing. So learn a few new skills, do something new for the new year and make your business soar so good.
There’s a mic job right there. I hope that you feel activated. I hope that you feel the desire to create and you feel inspired after spending this time with Jennifer Willingham. It has been a gift, my friend. Thank you for sharing the parts, the hard parts, but also the fun part that propel us into our purpose and ultimately what makes us passionate. It definitely pours out of you as well. So I thank you and I’m looking forward to staying in contact with Tamara.
You are a gift as an interviewer. Thank you so much. And I look forward to that as well. All right, friends. See you guys. Thank you.