Make Good Choices and Persevere, with Jennifer R. Farmer

Jennifer R. Farmer tells us how Black women thrive in work and life.  



We’ve been talking about resilience. Who better to talk to than Jennifer? She has a book available for preorder, First and Only: A Black Woman's Guide to Thriving at Work and in Life.  



Jennifer grew up in subsidized housing in Columbus, Ohio. “It was not uncommon for me to lay on the ground to escape the sound of bullets,” she explains. “When you grow up in poverty and you grow up in constant fear that you will survive, it's very difficult to see what your life could look like 10, 15, or 20 years down the line.  



“And so if you were talking to that 11 or 12 year old girl who was very aware of the fact that she was poor, very aware of the fact that she was smart, but still didn't have all the opportunities that she may have seen others, she could not have imagined who she would become. 



“College was not in my long-term plans. It was an attempt to escape the life I knew. Going to college was one of the best decisions I ever made. I gained more than knowledge. College gave me confidence. It gave me a new way to see the world and the belief that I was just as good as the next person.  



Perseverance  



“I have tried to do two things throughout my career: make good choices and persevere no matter what,” Jennifer says. “What distinguishes me from others is that I do not give up. I will always improve. I think critically about what it means to thrive, even in atmospheres not set up for my success.   



“My father was very independent. He was very determined. I got that from him.  



“My mother instilled in me that I don't ever give up. If you make a mistake., you can feel bad. Get up the next day and try again. I've learned that if I make a mistake, if I do something wrong, if I fail, it stings. But it stings a little bit less if there's a lesson that I can glean from it. If there's a strategy that I can put in place that will help me help me advance.  



“I think what's unique about me is, my commitment is to keep trying. I may be down for season, but my commitment is to start again, even in the face of perceived failure; even in the face of personal disappointment; even when it seems like I have no clue what I'm going to do. That willingness to start again is really what enables all of us to succeed.”  



Good Choices 



“Life reflects the choice that we have made,” Jennifer says. “I always think about ‘OK, how did I get here?’ What choice did I make?  



“And where do I want to be tomorrow. If I know where I want to be tomorrow, what choices do I have to make today to make that happen? When you think about your life, you can pinpoint different choices that set you up.  



“For example, my decision to go to college. That set me up to think differently about the world. My decision to surround myself with people who are different from me gives me an opportunity to see the world from a broader perspective. My decision to leave my full-time job and to start my own company is setting me up to have a level of agency that I've always that I've always desired. It gives me a level of freedom that's important to me as a parent.”  



Learn more about Jennifer R. Farmer: