When Janine Esbrand was growing up, she planned on becoming a lawyer, and she did just that. However, a legal mission trip to East Africa left her feeling like there was something missing when she worked on mergers and acquisitions. This led her on a journey of discovery — and into a new career as a coach. However, she struggled to work full-time in law, build her coaching business, and prepare for the birth of her son.
During her maternity leave, she realized what she wanted to do: help women figure out what their careers look like post-motherhood. At LightBOX Coaching, she helps women make both career and family work. She provides support to moms as they return from maternity leave to their previous jobs, start new companies, or change direction altogether.
Today, Janine joins the podcast to talk about combining your talents to find fulfillment, the different ways women juggle work and family life, and the unexpected gifts of running a membership site.
- The moment that Janine realized that there needed to be something more to her career than just corporate legal work — and how it led her to coaching.
- How Janine’s maternity leave organically led her to her new business.
- Why the membership model works so well for Janine’s unique combination of skills — and how you can combine your talents to find, serve, and positively impact your audience.
- What Janine did when she discovered that what she planned to teach wasn’t necessarily what her clients were looking for — and how she learned to best serve her audience.
Ready to reclaim your time and attract more monthly paying customers? Our step-by-step guide will show you how to build a membership site that turns your passion into recurring profit. Click here to download!
Life is too short to be doing work that you don’t enjoy. Figure out what it is you will enjoy and then move towards that.” – Janine Esbrand
There are billions of people on this earth but there is not one other person that has your unique blend of experience, backgrounds, passions, interests, or strengths. You are the one person that is YOU. There’s so many things that you can do that someone else can’t – Janine Esbrand
TranscriptRead The Transcript
Shelli: Janine Esbrand, welcome to the It’s A TRIBE Thing Podcast. How are you?
Janine: Hi, Shelli. I am great. Thank you. I’m so happy to be here excited.
Shelli: Oh, we’re super stoked to have you and your accent is amazing. You own a company called LightBOX Coaching and I’m excited to share you with all of our people and I’m wondering if you would mind starting telling your story from the very beginning before you were the person you are now and how that all unfolded for you and how you came to be the amazing entrepreneur you are today.
Janine: Okay. Yes. So, I’ll start my story by saying when I was growing up, I was quite argumentative and my mom suggested when I was about eight that I should become a lawyer because I always have an answer to everything. And so, that stuck with me and I pursued that path and figured out everything I needed to figure out to become a lawyer because I didn’t have anyone in my immediate family or circles that was a lawyer. And so, I pretty much followed that path and I qualified as a lawyer and towards the end of kind of the period where I was training, I went on a mission trip to Africa. I went to East Africa for two weeks on a legal mission trip and had the opportunity to really use my legal skills to help people who were remand, who had been in jail for a number of years without having a hearing, people that didn’t have access to justice, and it was an amazing trip. It was two weeks. It was the most impactful two weeks and I came back and went back to doing corporate mergers and acquisitions and some litigation work and I just felt like this doesn’t marry up. I just spent two weeks making an impact and now I’m here worrying about making someone more money. I just felt like there was something.
And so, even though I had prior to this, I’d always thought once I become a lawyer that’s going to be it. For me, I realized that that wasn’t enough and so, I kind of went on this journey of discovery to figure out what else can I do to be helping people and I came across coaching and I went to like a two-day seminar and learn all about coaching and was like, “Oh my goodness, I am a coach. I’ve been coaching all my life.” I’ve always been that person to try and inspire people to get them to see the positives in the situations to move them forward and then I realized this whole industry around it that I didn’t even know existed. And so, of course, I then dove into everything, wanted to learn everything. I did my coach certification alongside my legal career.
And then I was continuing to work as a corporate lawyer which is pretty long hours and then I got pregnant with my son and then I thought, “Okay. I’ve got my certification but I can’t build a baby, work these crazy hours and then also figure out how to build a coaching business.” And so, I part it for a while and then halfway into my maternity leave, in the UK we get a whole year so I took a year. So, when it was about six months in, I felt like I kind of figured out the motherhood thing and so I had space to now figure out the business side of building my coaching practice. And so, I spent time doing that and so since then in 2016, I’ve been building my coaching business and I really wanted to focus on supporting women who were like me who had built up their careers and worked really hard to get there but then we’re trying to figure out, well, what do I do now like I don’t want to throw away all those years that I’ve created developing my career but then things looked different now that I’m a mom and so I support women to help them to figure out what do you want your career to look like post-motherhood. How does that look like? What’s your ideal? And then what do we need to do to get you to a place where you are able to juggle work and family life effectively?
And then on the other side, I also help organizations to really support their women as they’re coming back so that they get the support that they need so they feel like they can make it work on spending the workplace. And one of the things that I really love to do is to work with groups of women and support groups of women and so I had the bright idea I think, to begin with 2017 to start a membership site but I didn’t quite know what that would look like and then earlier this year, I decided that I would see that further and then I came across Anna Runyan who shared information about TRIBE and then I learned about how to build a membership site. And so, I launched The Collective earlier this year.
Shelli: That’s brilliant. Okay. There is so much juicy stuff in here. Wow. Okay. So, this is incredible. So, I have questions about your personal journey and I know that the listeners are going to have similar questions. So, you started out with being a lawyer and I was impacted by what you said when you went to South Africa and you’re there and you’re offering your services to people, I love this quote when you said, “that don’t have access to justice” and I loved that you had gone through this what I can only imagine is a ridiculous amount of training and schooling to become a lawyer and then it’s kind of like it sounds like you get to the top of the mountain and in some ways it’s like the wrong mountain. Only because it sounds like as you were speaking about your career as a lawyer, specifically, without the other component of impacting coaching and giving back to in a sense like what you are most moved and most impacted by was using your skills to be able to impact others, and in your case, specifically the people in South Africa. I’m curious if you have any advice for people who are on their journey as well so whether it be moms going back to careers or people who are starting out in the entrepreneurial space who think I’m known for thing A but it’s not really what fills me up. What advice would you give those people?
Janine: Yeah. The first I would give is to firstly figure out what is it that is the issue for you that what’s missing. So, for me, I spent some time in where I qualified in a law firm and felt like this isn’t quite right and then I moved to another firm as well and then realized it wasn’t necessary the practice area that was missing. So, I think it’s good to explore, well, what is wrong? Is it my environment? Is it the type of people I’m working with? Is it the type of work that I’m doing? And then once you do that, if you feel like, “Yeah, this isn’t it. I need something else,” you don’t necessarily have to leave your career completely. So, right now I have a portfolio career so I still practice as a lawyer but then this other side where I’m able to coach, I get to do that side of things. So, combined they really fulfill different parts of my personality and what I really enjoy. So, think about whether you need to completely walk away from what you’re doing or whether you can bring in some of your passions separately and they don’t necessarily have to be something that you get paid to do it. It could be something that you just do as well, but combined with your work, you’re able to then to feel like you’re making a difference.
But I would definitely say take action. Don’t just know that you’re not feeling fulfilled and just stay there. If you need to seek out working with a coach or getting some advice from someone else, I would definitely suggest doing that because I just think life is too short to be doing work that you don’t enjoy and so you need to figure out what it is you will enjoy and then move towards that.
Shelli: Well, I honor your ability to look at the big picture, innovate, and follow your intuition because I love that you have this incredible career as a lawyer, you realize that you get personal reward from coaching people, and being able to walk people through that and then also incorporating what you’ve learned from your own journey with respect to being a mom and figuring that whole piece out. What I really love what you said also, though, is that you’re combining all of the gifts and all of the things that you do know and have, to be able to create the ultimate impact. I know you mentioned that you now are helping corporations learn how to support the moms coming back on the one side, and also the moms on the other side helping them to craft their what is your ideal just like you did and you just gave us advice on what is your ideal and what can that look like for you.
Janine: Yeah. I think it’s really important to be able to look at all of your gifts and talents. One of the things that I say to people is there are billions of people on this earth but there is not one other person that has your unique blend of experience, backgrounds, passions, interests, strengths. And so, you are the one person that is you so there’s so many things that you can do that someone else isn’t going to be able to do in your way. So, if that is the case then you really need to figure out what is that thing, what other thing that I should be doing that I’m really, really making use of the uniqueness that I have. And so, I love to help people to figure it out too.
Shelli: That’s incredible. I’m curious to know what is the best piece of feedback or testimonial that you’ve gotten from the people that you’ve worked with, with respect to transitioning or including motherhood and career.
Janine: So, I would guess recently we had one of the ladies who’s actually in The Collective, she was on maternity leave thinking about going back and she’s really concerned about whether or not she be able to go back part-time. She thought it wasn’t possible because she hadn’t seen anyone around her do it in her organization. And so, I worked with her and she got encouragement from other ladies in the group for her to figure out, well, what is your best case scenario? What is your absolute minimum that you’d be willing to do? And then help her to carve out your case, your business case, how she could put forward, why they should keep her as an employee and why they should honor her request. And she came back and said like she was so grateful because her mind was blown that she was so shocked that her organization said yes. And for me, it was really good because I was able to help her to realize what she had inside of her, what was possible. And so, it was just shining the light on the possibility was enough for her. So, her feedback was that she was so shocked and then so happy with that result and she was just so grateful that we were able to support her in that way. So, feedback like that just lights me up because it’s not really about me and what I’ve done. It’s about them and what they’ve been able to do by my support and that’s more what I get excited about.
Shelli: What is the number one misconception that you encounter regarding motherhood and returning to a career? Because I really love what you just said that you were able to shine a light on possibility and at the end of the day, she asked a question and the response she got probably may not have asked that question otherwise. So, what is the number one misconception that you encounter with regards to limiting beliefs for these mothers that are going back to work?
Janine: Yeah. I think the number one thing is people thinking it’s not possible. So, it makes sense because often you look around and you might not see someone who’s working in the way that you would like to work in terms of the type of flexibility and hours or days or whatever. But people tend to think, “Yeah, it’s not going to work. They’re not going to say yes. I can’t do it or how is it going to work in my industry? It’s not known to be something that you could do on a flexible basis or how I want this.” They don’t ask. And so, oftentimes, people are kind of cutting off the opportunity before they even ask the question or put forward their business case. So, I think the biggest misconception is that, “My organization is not going to accept my request or it’s not possible for me to work in the way that I want to so I’m just going to have to leave the workforce and stay home with my baby.” And you know, some people it’s the right decision for you to take some time out and just be home and raising your children but for some people, that’s not what they want to do. So, I just want people to realize that if it’s not what you want to do then figure out a way to make it work because there absolutely are many women working in those different ways who are juggling work and family life effectively.
Shelli: Yeah. That makes sense. Do you find in the digital age we’re living in now it creates a different set of possibilities? Because again, I love that you said you shine a light on the possibility for these women. Do you find though that there are different possibilities and different angles and ways that these solutions can be solved based on the fact that we do live in a digital age and there are other opportunities to perhaps do things in a nontraditional way?
Janine: Yeah. Absolutely. I think we live in a great age where we have access to technology that allows lots of things to be possible, and there’s also a shift in a lot of industries in terms of the way that things are done. So, I give an example as a lawyer, it’s very kind of traditional industry but there’s a rise and a lot of people working as consultant lawyers. So, instead of them being tied to a firm, they work as a consultant, which allows them a lot more flexibility than they would otherwise have and that’s made possible because of technology and because you don’t necessarily need to be in the office to do work because you can work remotely. And there’s lots more examples of where that’s becoming more common. So, if you are somebody who is very skilled and you’ve trained, you can actually think, okay, well, if I don’t go the traditional route, I can still use my skills and just work in a different way and there’s loads of possibilities now to do that. So, I think people ought to need to open their eyes to what the new possibilities are that they might not realize are out there.
Shelli: I love it. What is the unexpected gift that using your membership site and a membership site model has helped you in terms of how you serve and deliver to your community?
Janine: I think it really is the feedback that you get from the members and seeing the members interact with each other and being involved in multiple people’s lives. So, we have a monthly group call that we have and on that call, it’s really about accountability and helping people to move towards the goal that they set. And so, I feel like I’ve got to know so many different women and so many different circumstances and I’m kind of dipping in and out of their lives and really seeing how they’re moving forward, getting that feedback, and knowing that I’ve been able to support them and then they go off and do what they do and they report back to the group, the wins that they’ve had. I just think it’s amazing to see that you can impact multiple different people. Like when I work with people one-on-one it’s really intimate and I get to see their journeys close up but dipping in and out for me, is actually really powerful and really encouraging.
Shelli: Yeah. You know what, there’s something to be said for community and, you know, especially in the membership community circles and people who run them, and also people that are part of them, you always hear the saying you are a combination of the top five people you spend the most time with, and I remember as I was trying to apply as a firefighter, my starting point was I’m a manicurist, I’m 108 pounds and whenever I would speak my vision to people, the people that I was surrounding myself with were my 20-year-old girlfriends and they had no interest in firefighting of course. But every time I would speak my dream to these people, they would tell me why it wasn’t impossible and how it wasn’t logical and how I should probably try and find something else to do. But when I align myself with people that were like me that were going to the same destination that I was going that were doing the same things and had the same mindset, all of a sudden, those dreams that I kept feeling were crazy and unachievable based on the feedback I was getting now become normal.
And so, to your point with your community, you shore each other up, and then all of a sudden, these big dreams that we all have for each other about what is possible and how it’s possible and being inspired by other people who have done the very thing that you thought might not be doable is so profound. And I’m wondering also how has owning a membership changed your life as the person who curates and runs it and gets to deliver and serve these amazing women?
Janine: I think that just your point about community first, I think you’re absolutely right. I’m a member of a few different communities and in my real life as in not my online life, there aren’t many people that do what I’m doing in terms of, you know, having a career and then also running a business and trying to grow that business. And so, it’s so powerful to have people on your page and I think with the community I’m really trying to help people to see that connecting with one another is gold in terms of your network. I think in terms of the community and how it’s impacted my life, I think I’ve just become more aware that when it comes to coaching and it comes to me supporting people, it really is about the individuals and it really is about them and me facilitating and giving them what they need to move along their journey. So, before I launch the membership site, I mapped out all of the training that I wanted to do and all of the different topics I wanted to cover, but actually, when I got in there, I put out a few polls and asked a few questions about what people would find useful things.
And some of the things that they suggested were not things that were on my radar. Some of the things I thought they would want were not necessarily things that were as pressing as I thought. And so, just getting in there and speaking to people made me realize that in everything that I do in terms of growing my business, it’s not about what I think. It’s about the audience and the people that I want to impact. And so, I should really be reaching out to them first and asking what they want and then going away to create it as opposed to feeling like I need to have everything figured out ahead of time. So, that’s really made a difference with the membership and then I’m also applying that to other areas of my business. And even just my day-to-day life just thinking about why am I doing this? Is this my idea or is this something that people actually want around me?
Shelli: Well, I love the impact that you’re making in the lives of other people because when you’re able to be a mother and also do something that’s rewarding and that you really want to do but maybe possibly think there isn’t an opportunity or a way to do it, it really does open up the lives and the possibility for those women. So, with that, shining a light on that it doesn’t have to be an “or” but it can be an “and” and that you’re the “how to” is a way that you’re giving these women access to justice, in this case, the justice is possibilities so I wanted to acknowledge and honor you for that.
Janine: Yeah. Well, I never thought of it that way. Thanks, Shelli. That’s great.
Shelli: I really appreciate you spending the time and hanging out with us on the It’s A TRIBE Thing Podcast. And if people are looking for more information about you and what you do and the magic that you weave, where is the best place for them to find you online?
Janine: Yeah. The best place is my website so it’s www.LightBOXCoaching.com and then I’m also spending a lot of time on LinkedIn so you can look me up, Janine Esbrand, on LinkedIn.
Shelli: Brilliant. Thank you so much for your time and for sharing your brilliant and wonderful story. You’re awesome.
Janine: Thanks for having me.