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In January 2020, Jennifer Magley landed her dream job. The Kansas native accepted a position at CMS Sport & Entertainment as its new senior manager of brand partnerships, which allowed her to fly to New York City and give presentations to billionaires, which she describes as “living an incredible life.”
A mere 84 days later she was laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I did a post on LinkedIn and it went viral,” she says. “It had 10 million views and was shared a lot. U.S. News and World Report actually did a story on me, so for 15 minutes I was the most famous unemployed woman in the U.S.”
Her brief time in the spotlight landed her a job as a field recruiter with Association Member Benefits Advisors (AMBA) where she recruits people to sell insurance all from the comfort of her home.
“It’s not as sexy as my dream job, but it’s a great job to have during the pandemic,” Magley says.
Prior to AMBA, Magley was a Division I tennis player at the University of Florida and won a national title. After being a professional athlete, she continued her tennis career as an associate head coach at Wichita State University and head women’s tennis coach at Florida Gulf Coast University. In addition, she does speaking engagements specializing in coaching high performance executives, athletes, and business owners in the areas of time management and habits. In 2021, after realizing there were no business or leadership fables about the power of identity, she wrote her own, How To Be Queen: A Leadership Fable.
We caught up with Magley and learned more about how she trained to be a Division I athlete, how we can stay on track when life doesn’t go our way, and why she finally got WiFi only three years ago.
Maven Superpower: Connecting with people very quickly; connecting in a lot of different ways.
After the whole pandemic situation, what would you say is your new dream job?
I have a belief that a majority of people in the United States, if given the opportunity, would quit their job. So, I don’t think I’m in the minority of dreaming bigger beyond my title. My dream would be to continue to work from home and speak and coach full-time so I can be there for my kiddos when they get off the bus and need rides to basketball and acting and all the fun things they like to do.
You have so many roles as a wife, mother, speaker, and recruiter. How do you balance them all?
There’s two things that come to mind. The first is I always make certain that I take care of me first. I started doing that about six years ago. That looks like waking up earlier to spend time reading and journaling and having this whole habit I have in the morning. And then in the evenings, taking time to write down the things I’m grateful for from the day. Secondly, I call it “selective failure.” I just choose the thing that I’m going to let go of. So selective failure, just choosing which things you’re going to fail at so you continue to win in other things.
How’d you train to become a Division I athlete? Did you always want to be a professional tennis player?
Eight hours a day at the largest sports academy in the world: IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. As a child I wanted to be #1 in the world and knew that becoming a professional athlete was part of that. Really though, how big is the world when you are a nine year old in Kansas?
Earlier you mentioned not going as far in your tennis career as you planned and then being laid off at the beginning of the pandemic. How did you stay on track when life didn’t go as you thought it would?
Perspective is so powerful because it informs our mindset. I didn’t have the ability to separate my losses as an athlete from who I really was. For example, when I lost a tennis match, I was a loser off the court, too. Thankfully, years later when I got laid off early in the pandemic, I was able to say: Yes I lost my job and I am not a “loser” because of it. Believing, even in the times I feel lost, that I am not off-course or track has been helpful for me.
“For 15 minutes I was the most famous unemployed woman in the U.S.”
How does self-leadership differ from leadership?
Everyone today talks about “influencers.” I believe self-leadership is the ultimate form of influencing as you tell yourself what to do and then you do it. It is different from leadership in that it is one of the only things you can control.
How do you wind down after a long week?
I strangely did not have Wi-Fi until three years ago. And now that I’ve had Wi-Fi for three years, I can fully say that I enjoy streaming shows. I really enjoy it. So, sitting down with my husband or by myself and an Epsom salt bath, and watching a show is fantastic. I really love streaming.
Why didn’t you have Wi-Fi until three years ago?
I just felt that there were so many more things I could be doing with my time, like earning, reading more and writing more and just experiencing life to the max. But at that time, I also wasn’t taking off two days a week. I wasn’t taking off any days a week.
Do you ever get stage fright before you speak? If so, how do you handle it?
Yes, I am sweating right now giving these answers. Wearing natural deodorant does not stop sweating, unfortunately. Early in my speaking career I tried to hide in bathrooms, so I could focus on what I was about to say and “meditate.” However, as the stages got bigger that was near impossible. Conferences are about connections and you can’t do that hiding next to a toilet. The more I remember that speaking is not about me but rather the women who came, it chases the stage fright away.
Tell me something that most people don’t know about you.
I’m obsessed with learning how people think and how we work as humans. I’m really obsessed with the behavior of people. I’m constantly learning and seeking and reading about the different studies that have come out.
If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
Probably my Grandma Mary. She passed away when my dad was a teenager. I’d like to know what he was like as a child—when was he potty trained, what made him cry? Things like that.
What are three things you cannot live without?
My husband and our two sons.
What’s your favorite restaurant in Indy?
I really miss Vida, haven’t been since the pandemic and have some lovely memories there.
Samantha Kupiainen is a regular Indy Maven contributor.