Episode OverviewIn this episode, Rebecca discusses her decision to reject the corporate route after business school and fly to Tanzania instead. She talks about her realizations during school regarding the type of work she wants to be doing, and asking herself, “What would I do if I only had one year to live?” Rebecca then tells us about her journey into the world of international development and discovering the darker side of “good” work. We further discuss entrepreneurship, the loneliness of betting on yourself, and how it feels to feel alive.
CEO - Edvo
Rebecca JacobsAfter graduating from Babson College with an entrepreneurship degree, Rebecca moved to Tanzania to work in international development. She quickly became disillusioned with the industry and began searching for solutions in 2017. With no clear path forward, she realized that if she wanted things to change, she would have to step up and be part of the change. With that, Anika Works Inc. was born in 2019.
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Shireen Jaffer 0:00
Hi, everybody. Welcome to the Edvolution podcast where we question what makes our life truly ours. I’m Shireen Jaffer and I’m very excited to introduce you to some incredible people with fascinating stories. I’ve got Rebecca Jacobs here with me. She’s the founder of Anika works. This is actually the first time I’m talking to Rebecca. We met through a female founder community group. And she sent me literally one message about her story. And I told her we have to talk. So here’s Rebecca, I am so glad to have you here. Thanks so much for joining.
Rebecca Jacobs 0:36
It is such a pleasure to be here. Yes, I really resonated with you in that community. I think it’s so fabulous that communities like this are starting to pop up because it can bring together people in such beautiful ways like this. So I’m really excited to get to know you better through this podcast.
Childhood, Definitions of Success, and Moving to Tanzania (0:54)
Shireen Jaffer 0:54
Yeah, me too. So when you messaged me, you said you were studying business in college. You were on this path to the corporate world. And then you made the major pivot and ended up in Tanzania and discovered a whole set of challenges and problems and good things there. So I’m super excited to dive deeper into your story. But Rebecca, let’s start off with, you know, where everything started with your childhood. Tell us a little bit more about how you grew up and what was success for you growing up?
Rebecca Jacobs 1:27
Yeah, absolutely. So it does always start with childhood, doesn’t it? Basically, I grew up in Toronto, Canada. So that’s where I am right now. I actually grew up in a household with an entrepreneur. So my dad owned his own business. And so I grew up in love with the idea of starting my own business. And he always included me in sort of that dream of his as I started to get a little bit older. Even in the fifth grade, I was writing in my yearbook that I wanted to be an entrepreneur when I grew up and I couldn’t even spell it out. At the time, it’s, it’s been sort of in my blood, really from the beginning. Um, but I think the sort of beautiful thing about all of that was that at a young age, it wasn’t ever really about having to do what I was told, I think my both my parents always really encouraged me to just go 110% into whatever it is that I wanted to do and to fully embrace that. So I think, you know, talking about the corporate world and how I started to fall down that path was actually probably because I, so I got a taste of what entrepreneurship meant. But then unfortunately, my dad actually passed away when I was nine years old. So so I kind of, you know, he was my best friend and my partner in crime and I got a taste of what his life was like. And so, for a while, I tried to follow in those footsteps and figure out you know, how to take that same path without exactly Understanding what what that would mean for me as my own woman now that I, you know, am that goal and that dream that I had for myself of being an entrepreneur, I think, more than anything, I knew that it was what I wanted, but I didn’t really know practically what it looked like. So I sort of I fell into the the pattern and the sort of pipeline that a lot of people get fed into, at a certain point of, you know, you, you think that this is what it means to kind of check that box to have a business you have to go to business school. And so I think, as part of that conditioning, I ended up really getting taught that the path of success through business with you know, things like finance or accounting, and from pretty early on in my, my education, I, I felt a bit of a disconnect from a human standpoint. I picked up the skill set, but I I just thought oh man I don’t think I can do this forever. I don’t think this is how this is supposed to look.
Shireen Jaffer 4:05
And this is you talking about business school when you were learning finance, and, you know, sales and marketing in the traditional undergrad business, well, format, you felt like, Oh, this isn’t? This isn’t what I think it should look like. Is that what you’re referring to?
Rebecca Jacobs 4:22
Exactly. So I, like I sort of took away and I did spend a lot of my time around data analytics and finance. And so I joined investment, fun clubs and things like that. And I came out of it, the structure of it the way that the knowledge that I had learned and the insight about how the world works and how businesses function, you know, being in sort of finance setting for example, and thinking about wealth management, I was really constantly coming back to myself thinking, okay, but I’m just helping the rich get richer, or even salting projects and that kind of thing. I always found myself thinking about the person that I was serving and how that, that it wasn’t the right person it was, I wasn’t operating in the sort of space that made me feel like I was really contributing to the world.
Shireen Jaffer 5:12
Got it very interesting. Well, first of all, thank you for sharing that background. And I’m sorry to hear about your dad, but I’m so happy that he served us such a strong inspiration in your life and really helped you reflect on your path to entrepreneurship. So tell me, you know, you’re you’re having this realization in college. Initially, you thought going to college for business would allow you to start your own business. And then very quickly realized, Oh, I don’t think I’m spending my time doing things that I want to do when it comes to starting my own venture. So what as you’re having those realizations, what led you to, to, you know, eventually go to Tanzania? What was where was that calling coming from?
Rebecca Jacobs 5:58
Alright, so I kind of started to get Curious about travel and exploring new cultures and new communities because my school actually was in the US. So I was already traveling to start my journey academically, but my mom was actually sick as well. So I thought to be a complete downer, but my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer back in 2015. And so I had yet another sort of moment of grief and loss and the feelings of beginning to lose someone and I, I think it was sort of a critical moment in my life because I had actually planned for a study abroad trip where I spent a month living in Russia a month living in China in a month living in India. And so that moment of cultural immersion and experiencing life outside of myself intersected with this this period of struggling pain in my life. And so I sort of had a you know, what would I do if I had a year to live moment, and I came to the conclusion that I would spend it serving the global community and trying to make a positive impact and leave the world a little bit better off than when I started. And so from there, I, I had the best time of my life on that trip. And I came back and I continue to think about ways to, to live that feeling in my entire career, and so ended up stumbling onto another experience which led me to first I just did a trip with my school once again to work in Tanzania for a short period of time, but as I was there, I was also sort of trying to decide if I was ready to take the leap and actually move there full time for two years. And I didn’t I came back from that short trip and Thought you know what this is. This is where I feel most alive. And this is where I feel closest to what I defined to be entrepreneurship and what I defined to be career success.
Shireen Jaffer 8:13
That’s awesome. That’s incredible. I think entrepreneurship definitely can be defined. Well, of course, there’s, you know, the traditional definition. But I had a similar experience. I went to USC in LA for entrepreneurship. But my major was business, I was part of the Marshall School of Business, entrepreneurship was simply a concentration or emphasis that you could explore. And I remember in my entrepreneurship classes, the things I was learning, compared to what I was experiencing in the field, starting my own, you know, business, it was a project at the time, but starting my business, and then, of course, what I was hearing from, you know, entrepreneurs that were quote unquote, successful already, and, you know, the advice that they were giving out everything kind of conflicted, and it really gets came down to experiencing it for myself and defining entrepreneurship for myself and how I want to express it. So I love that you were able to do that through these trips and through these, you know, cultural immersion experiences. So tell us a little bit more about Tanzania and what you experienced and where it led you.
Entrepreneurship and What it Means to “Do Good” (9:19)
Rebecca Jacobs 9:19
I yeah, absolutely. So my first work experience in Tanzania was very much what I would think to be the dream job. So it was the opportunity to start up and pilot a Center for Entrepreneurship. In a community there that we saw, I was representing my my school at the time, and we had established relationships and it felt like this very natural coming together of those two value systems that i was growing inside of myself at the same time. So the, as you mentioned, you know, entrepreneurship, but in a really practical, authentic way, and not just that textbook stuff with no need and call to serve the community in a real and dedicated way. And so I ended up I, I moved there in 2017. And basically, we were doing all sorts of things, but part of it included running after school entrepreneurship classes for secondary school students. We were doing consulting projects with local small businesses. So it’s incredible. Every time I talk about it or think about it, I’m just brought back to this place of wonder and gratitude, because it was an absolute privilege to be able to immerse myself in that culture in that community. And I was welcomed with such open arms. You think that I learned so much more from being able to fully participate in life in Tanzania in karatu, you shout out to karatu but it’s Yeah, I think more than anything it was it was just this moment of acceptance of the fact that, you know, as much as I wanted to help and as much as I wanted to contribute, I was sort of a cog in this machine. That was social impact work and international development. And I had only just begun to understand what that really truly meant. So, as fantastic as it was as as much as I feel connected to karatsu, Tanzania as my home and as a part of me that I will never truly leave. I also felt pretty disillusioned by how it all worked. Once I got into the thick of it, sort of came to this realization that doing good work, so to speak is not intrinsically good, and there are so many opportunities for, for harm and for mismanagement and for lack of resources. Round, what is important? And so, yeah, that was basically my experience in Tanzania was beautiful and messy as most of life is. Most of life’s experiences are
Shireen Jaffer 12:13
beautiful and messy, interesting. So well now, I was always fascinated by your story, but even more intrigued. So tell me a little bit more about what you mean about the, you know, the messy part. And I think you’re right in the sense that I work with a lot of college students and I work with a lot of adults who are also just questioning what they really want to do in life. And most of them talk about, you know, maybe I need to go visit another culture and contribute and bring my skill set and, you know, doing good work is oftentimes just seen as that good work that you do. So tell us about the things that you noticed and ultimately after Tanzanian spending, you know, the time there. Where did you go next? What type of work did you start doing based on those experiences?
Rebecca Jacobs 13:06
Yes, beautiful and messy going back to that. So I guess touching on the messy a little bit more something that I observed not just within myself and sort of the work and the projects that I had going on, but also in the broader community of nonprofits. And just, you know, social impact work in general in the area, as you referred to, it’s, you know, it’s where our world is moving. Everybody wants to have this sort of purpose driven career and Purpose Driven Life. And so there are a lot of spaces can be included that have sort of become hubs for that kind of work. The space that I was in, I just, I really started to see that, you know, the, the work that was being done that was truly grown from the community members was was something that people wanted was something that people needed and had very tangible benefits for people which, you know, is sometimes hard to measure. You know, you want to call it grassroots work versus that the top down approach of people coming in and thinking that they know better than everyone else that already lives there. That kind of work was incredibly challenging because, you know, the kinds of people that are really immersed and dedicated to that sort of work and the leadership that happens in those projects. It’s, it’s so so tough to not have to survive it. I don’t know if there’s a better way to put it than that. But so many leaders in the sector were struggling with, you know, burnout, struggling with getting access to resources, whether they were, you know, team, whether it was financial resources to make their ends meet and pay their next check to to their stakeholders. It is almost felt like the and I think this was particularly hard for me to look at, and not act on because I had come from a corporate background. But you know that it’s like the projects and the ideas and the execution that was happening that was so beautiful and I personally believed deserve to be over resourced was incredibly under resourced. And then on the other hand, there are projects that happen and initiatives that are out there that, you know, going back to what I said before, are a little bit more top down and are a little bit more glamorous looking on the outside and tend to get the bigger checks and tend to get more support externally, but I also happen to do a lot of harm along the way. And so I guess, no all of which to say it was a very real and honest look at how life can sometimes be a little bit unbalanced. The greatest Great work that is happening can sometimes go unnoticed. And that frustrated me to no end.
Shireen Jaffer 16:05
Sodo you feel like, you know, was this a common discussion while you were on the ground working? Do you feel like other people working alongside you felt those same frustrations? Or do you feel like you were so low in that?
Rebecca Jacobs 16:20
It was definitely a common thread. So I think it started from me thinking, Oh, this doesn’t feel right. For me, maybe this is just the way that I’m navigating through this project. Maybe it’s I haven’t learned enough about the industry yet. But then I started to look around me and outside of my own experience, and talk to my mentors, talk to my own community and network of people that I’d started to grow both within the community that I was immersed in, but also in other parts of the world. So to answer your question, I think what I very quickly realized is that it is more common than not Something that almost has become normalized. It’s sort of accepted in ways that I personally was infuriated by.
Shireen Jaffer 17:10
Yeah, absolutely. I, you know, when I started doing a lot of social entrepreneurship type projects, you know, social entrepreneurship as a term. I hadn’t heard of it until I was in college, and USC had just opened their, like social entrepreneurship program. And so many of the discussions we were having there was around, you know, going into communities and rebuilding. And I remember that time I might, and a lot of people were talking about it. But you know, our biggest concerns were, well, we don’t know anything about these cultures. We don’t know anything about, you know, how things have been done and why And who are we to believe that we can do everything better. So that was definitely a concern coming up over and over again. And I found that it was a common thread then more people were realizing there’s a lot of complexity. complexity when it comes to doing good work that people were, I guess, talking about, but in more of a, you know, let’s have this conversation, but no one knew how to act on it. So I’m, I’m interested to know, Rebecca, you know, as you are seeing this common thread within the discussions you’re having, ultimately, what were the actions, you know, you ended up taking, and what what what did that work look like?
Rebecca Jacobs 18:27
Um, yes. And I appreciate you mentioning that as well. I think it’s it is it is the tough conversation to have to sort of see that and acknowledge that, especially when, you know, as you mentioned, we’re all in it for the right reasons. We all have good intentions. But sometimes those good intentions can lead harmful actions without us even not like acknowledging or knowing it. Oh, did I act on it? I’m still that I took some time to really listen. So I ended up going back to Tanzania and I volunteered with a non prime Prophet that I deeply respect. And I learned as much as I could about this experience with that founder and how she sort of was able to navigate this world of, of under resourcing and burnout, and you know, all of the things that I mentioned before. And then from there, I started to think about how I could solve it from a business perspective. And that’s where I guess I’ve come full circle and come back to entrepreneurship once again, a little bit. I am a founder of my own business. Now we’re called Anika Works, or one liner is basically that we are building a matchmaking platform for social impact leaders to help them prepare, connect and grow their organizations, specifically their nonprofit, so that they can focus on what really matters, which is doing that good work. And we believe that you know, if you allow people to, to really focus on you Doing that good work and engaging in meaningful ways and communities and and we take on the stuff that’s a little bit less exciting, like the figuring out how to plan your budgets and fundraising and all of that stuff that really is external facing and requires a little bit more of the glamour and the glitz then maybe we’ll we’ll find that beautiful intersection of people that are doing that really great work and the ability to kind of promote them.
Taking a Different Route in Life (20:30)
Shireen Jaffer 20:30
That’s incredible. Thank you for sharing that and I’m and thank you for doing that work and and bringing, you know those people together and supporting them. Um, it’s it’s very much needed. And you know, I want to go back Rebecca to you said you left for Tanzania in 2017. Okay, so, you know, you just graduated and you’re going to Tanzania. How was the How was that like with you know, the people You graduated with, was that a common thing for people to do? Or did you come across a variety of opinions on that decision that you made?
Rebecca Jacobs 21:10
Um, that is a great question. I definitely came across a variety of opinions. And some I will exclude from this conversation because they are just too ridiculous to even say out loud and, and I got people who thought that I was washing my life down the toilet in people that that, you know, understood and kind of, you know, thought that I was a bleeding heart so that it made sense, but they didn’t really see the sustainability of it. And because I think it’s what we were all trained to think, you know, we my paycheck was, oh gosh, I don’t know like a 10th of what my classmates were getting straight out of college. So for a lot of reasons it it made sense. That there was a strong reaction and that you know it not everyone could sort of see the US, I guess the value in it from a personal and professional perspective, although maybe they could see the, the sort of do gooder value of it. I will say though, I’m very lucky. I could not have done it without the support of my family and some of my closest friends to this day, I still am very, very close to, I will say, you know, at this point in my life, I’ve had some pretty interesting adventures and I definitely have no regrets about any of it and where it’s brought me to today. So I you know, I would say that most of the people in my life that have been able to sort of watch me grow through this, have had all sorts of feelings about it, but ultimately, they they appreciate where it’s brought me. So,
Shireen Jaffer 22:56
yeah, and I love that you obviously look back to your experience. Tanzania, it’s inspired so much of what you’re doing now. And, you know, you you have those great feelings, of course of just the beauty and the open arms that Welcome to you. So I love that. But tell us a little Of course, you didn’t experience any of that when you made the decision to go there and take this chance to tell us a little bit more about what you were feeling when you were getting those variety of opinions. And, you know, what, if you can, you know, remember really what what those feelings were like and what gave you the courage to still have that conviction in your decision to make the move and take that chance on yourself.
Rebecca Jacobs 23:38
You’re right, I you know, I won’t sugarcoat it. It was it was hard it was I definitely flipped back and forth quite a bit. And actually, since then, I’ve had the privilege of, of mentoring. Some people that have also wanted to take that leap in their own lives. And many times the reason that that decision is not made Because of, you know, their own communities, their families that maybe aren’t able to be supportive. And so, you know, it’s it’s very real. It’s I don’t think, at the end of the day, I think as humans, we all want to feel like we belong. And we all want to feel like the people around us, support us and believe in us and approve of us. To some extent. It depended on who the feedback was from. I think I’ve I’m still learning I’m still trying to figure out how best to handle criticism and handle people that don’t really understand what my path in life looks like. In those moments of insecurity, I would just come back to why am I doing this? Why the world ended in a year which somedays at this time kind of feels like it might have what what would I have to show for it and what would I feel proud in myself of having done and I think maybe because of sort of the the way that I grew up in Understanding that, you know, impermanence is a thing. And the people in our lives are, are not always here forever, I think that sometimes has given me a bit more perspective into, to how I deal with people. In general, when when I have a sort of different viewpoint than them is that we’re, we’re all in this earth for a short period of time, and we all choose to live it and what we make sense to us, and we all go through pain, and we all go through loss, and that shapes how we see things, and that shapes how we feel about certain things. And so, I guess part of it was, you know, recognizing that at the end of the day, those people would probably not be around in a year. But also, I tried as best as I could to have a little bit of empathy for the fact that that maybe they were seeing it through this lens because they hadn’t been shown anything else. And as much as I have had, you know, these painful experiences in my life, they’ve given me opportunities to look at life differently. And not everybody has had that.
Shireen Jaffer 26:09
Yeah, I think that’s so powerful. I mean, two things you mentioned, Rebecca, that really stood out to me as one, you know, the power of just asking yourself why you’re doing something. And this goes for both, you know, decisions you want to make, that you may not have the confidence and yet you’re still developing conviction and just going back to the why it matters, to help you build that confidence. And then also on the other side of things when you’re doing things and they don’t quite feel right to you, and just questioning why are you living the lifestyle you’re living? or Why are you doing the type of work you’re doing? or Why are you making the decisions you’re making? I think there’s so much power in consistently honestly, having that sort of reflection. So I love that you pointed that out and and went to that when you were making this decision for yourself. And, you know, number two that you really mentioned is having empathy for people’s opinions. Even if they’re You know not necessarily encouraging you and not necessarily sharing the most positive words I think what helps me I agree with you what helps me overcome better or just embrace it honestly as as trying to understand from what lens are they giving you that opinion and objective Lee being able to look at it and not taking things personally because at the end of the day, you have to develop conviction for yourself and, and live the life you want. And not everyone is going to agree with that. And, and you don’t need that validation. You don’t need that external validation. If anything you can learn from other people’s opinions. By just again, going back to what you said Rebecca is seeing it for what lens they’re viewing it and what type of live experiences they’ve had. And I’m sure as you started Anika works, you came back to getting a ton of opinions on on that venture and and being in this industry. So tell us a little bit more about that journey. How has it been since you’ve Launched Annika works?
Getting the Hang of Taking Risks (28:02)
Rebecca Jacobs 28:02
Yes, I think I totally echo all of your points. And absolutely, I got a whole new wave of what do you think you’re doing? When I came to starting Annika works I think I had practiced for so long, taking risks in my life and doing things that felt right for me in a big ways and the ways that mattered that by the time I had actually started the company, people had much lower expectations of how I would handle myself so lower in the sense of, they stopped making assumptions about how I would behave. And that was a blessing. Here I think it’s given me so much more freedom to to sort of make decisions around my business to take risks with my business to feel confident in my own skin as a leader. I definitely would not have had that level of conviction in my beliefs had I not been questioned so much earlier on. And I said, you know, I’m still getting questions that I think sometimes the lens of those questions are from an advisory standpoint from just trying to be helpful, you know, because people care about me and they want to make sure that I’m successful and I’m, and again, successful meaning different things to different people. But, yeah, ultimately, I think it even if it’s not, even if it comes from a place of ego or some other, you know, unforeseen factor in somebody’s life, I I continue to reflect on this journey that I’ve had up until this point and all of that I’ve been able to overcome and, and kind of experience and the sort of fullness that my life has despite Having made absolutely every choice that was, you know, contradictory to what the majority of people in my communities at the time were doing. So, I think that’s, that’s how I, you know, continue to keep going. And I remind myself not to let things bother me too, too much is, is because every decision that I’ve made up until this point has led to some pretty incredible story and really invaluable lessons about what it means to be alive, what it means to be human, what it means to love and learn and grow and contribute to the world. So yeah, I think it’s a little bit now as I get older, and as I’m continuing to do this and take risks, it’s, it’s almost like riding a bike, you know, it’s, I’m kind of used to it. Now I know what kinds of critiques I’m gonna get and I know how to respond to them lovingly and still maintain my course.
Shireen Jaffer 31:00
I yeah, I love that and I can’t agree more. I think that your confidence just builds over time in honestly the confidence in taking the chance on yourself the confidence and betting on yourself and aligning yourself with what you believe feels right. That’s a skill. That’s a skill that you know is often not developed because again, we’re so used to living life the way we’re told to live it or what you know, people tell us will lead us to our success. So, again, I’m so happy that you come to a point where people you know, don’t they they don’t feel the need to say anything to you because they know that you’ve figured it out before and you’ll figure it out again. And you know, I say this a lot to people who are still I mean, we always get criticized that that’s nothing’s gonna stop I think has lessons over time. But, you know, people that are in the journey right now where everyone is giving them in opinion and not necessarily supportive of their actions if you truly believe that what you’re doing or if you just even have an inkling sometimes we don’t know, we don’t have the hundred percent confidence but if you have an inkling that you just have to do something differently, instead of spending all of your energy and time fighting or trying to answer to people’s opinions and trying to give them an answer as to why what you’re doing is justified and whatnot, invest that energy and just showing yourself that you can do it and that, you know, following your truth, your inkling, whatever it may be, is worthwhile because that ultimately will show everybody else you know, and you’re not doing it to prove anyone wrong. You’re simply doing it to prove yourself right. And Rebecca, I love that you know, you call it out. The more you do that, you know whether it gets easier and not as different but you just get more confident and being able to continue doing it.
Rebecca Jacobs 32:59
Absolutely, yes. Yes. All of what you said, I think it’s, and I’m, you know, I’m so grateful to be able to talk to you today because I think this was another moment of, you know, like, like you mentioned, we’ve never met before. And here we are on a podcast together. And I think this is sort of a beautiful moment for me as well of just remembering that, that, you know, we can do it, we can trust ourselves and take these risks and do things that maybe scare us a little bit or maybe are not the norm. But at the end of the day, the one thing that that you can always rely on is is is betting on yourself is trusting in yourself and knowing that
it might not be a straight path, but it’s going to be the path that’s right for you. And yeah, it’s it’s a journey. Like you said, it never really stops but it is a practice like anything else. And if you keep to it and and you kind of believe that it’s important into practice, then it it kind of opens you up to beautiful moments in life like this.
Solitude, Community, and What it Means to Feel Alive (34:06)
Shireen Jaffer 34:06
I Well, well, thank you for calling that out. I love that. And, you know i, let’s talk about struggle a little bit because some as you were talking, you know I did. I’m you know, it seems like you found a community obviously that encourages you and keeps you going. And we’ll talk about that a little bit, but a lot of people and I felt this myself, this journey of betting them yourself and trying to figure out your path for lack of better words can be extremely lonely. It can feel lonely, it can feel like you’re the only one who sees you know what you’re working towards, and no one else sees it and so it can feel extremely just lonesome. So what do you think about that? Is that something you resonate with? How, how have those feelings been throughout your journey?
Rebecca Jacobs 34:56
Oh, yes. Um, I think I think have had to get comfortable with feeling alone a lot of the time. At first I resented it a little bit. And at first I would tell myself, you know, if only I could just fit in or if only, you know, I could just have fun this weekend instead of working on this part of my business. There’s some days where you, you feel your vision so fully, but you look around, nobody else can see what you’re looking at. And I’m still learning. I’m not 100% of the way there I won’t pretend to be but I think a couple things have happened over time for me. So the first thing is that, you know, I’ve I’ve learned to appreciate the small moments of connection and the sort of the meaningful moments in unexpected places and unexpected ways because, you know, my life has turned out to be pretty unexpected and kind of outside of the norm. So it wouldn’t make sense that a lot A lot of my connections are kind of reflect that. And so, you know, whether it’s somebody that has sort of come out of the blue and into my life for a day for a conversation for for a few months at a time when I need the most, I try to look at those people and look at those kind of moments of connection and just be in awe of them and experience the full gratitude for things like that that happened because, you know, it’s at the end of the day, it’s it’s hard to be completely in one setting and one community without a little bit of that groupthink coming up in a little bit of trying to fit in. And I think there are places there are moments for, for being immersed in groups and, you know, our, our women at founders group being one of those places, but at the same time, I think I think it’s nice to sort of have realized that That the depth of connection and, and that, I guess, alleviation of the loneliness that we all feel. It can happen in really deep and beautiful ways that are not necessarily connected to a timeline or connected to the frequency of communication. So, you know, some of my closest friends and supporters don’t live anywhere near me. My community of people and cheerleaders has become very global. And so that means a lot of the time when I’m home. As much as I do love the community I have here. You know, the people that see through the lens that aligns with mine are, are not necessarily people that I can walk to the house of, or, you know, go for a coffee with every other day. And I’ve kind of come to realize that toughest be and as lonely as it can be. It doesn’t mean that, you know, I’m any less connected or any less. I don’t know any less like alive than anybody else. If anything, maybe it’s, it’s as human as an experiences as one can have.
Shireen Jaffer 38:15
Yeah, you know, you mentioned the feeling of feeling alive a couple of times now. And it’s funny because just last night, I mean, we talked about this a lot, but my husband and I, just last night, we’re talking about what it means to feel alive. So tell me In your opinion, or how it feels for you, what does the How would you describe the feeling of feeling alive?
Rebecca Jacobs 38:41
Really question i. I think I will probably answer this one way now. And as soon as we’re off our chat, I’m going to think of 1000 other ways to answer it. So don’t mind that, but I I will say that as of this exact moment, whatever means to feel alive for me is to is to feel a sense of connection to sort of the the world as a whole and my place in it, and also to acknowledge my own insignificance and to acknowledge the fact that life is short and that things end and change all the time. But also, how fun and freeing that is. So, you know, I think that’s, that’s really it in a nutshell. For me, it is that beautiful realization that I am here for a minute and I can absolutely make the most of it if I want to.
Shireen Jaffer 39:45
Yeah, totally. I mean, yeah, there’s I feel like there are several feelings that can make you feel alive. So I don’t really don’t. I’m not surprised that you’ll come up with hundreds of different answers in a raid and I My partner, we were talking about our definitions last night and it came up because, you know, this week has been a grind for us like we are in a deep grind. We’re trying on a lot of things. We’re running a ton of experiments. We’re just we’re working ridiculously hard. And we love every minute of it. Because one, both of us do, you know, we’ve intentionally chosen to build a life where we, I guess I’ll say sacrifice. It doesn’t feel like sacrifice anymore. But at the time, we sacrifice things that we thought we wanted. And the reason why they don’t feel like sacrifices anymore is because we don’t want them. But we sacrifice things we thought we wanted for things that we know would make us feel aligned. And because we’ve intentionally done that we’re doing work that we genuinely care about that, you know, we can, it doesn’t feel like work. And so, you know, this week we’ve been just grinding and right and I looked at each other last night and said Wow, you know, these are the moments these are the weeks where we feel like spectators where we have such a heightened level of self awareness that we know we’re feeling pain that we know that we’re failing, you know, feeling the stress that we can literally feel every part of our body experiencing something. And to us that’s what it means to feel alive. And it’s amazing and it’s profound to not feel like oh, we’re just going day by day waiting for the weekend, waiting for the hours to pass. Heck, no, we’re genuinely feeling the impact of every minute the positive and the, you know, not so positive. But to us. That’s that’s feeling alive and that’s beautiful. So anyways, thought I’d share that.
Rebecca Jacobs 41:50
That is amazing. I could not have put it in better words and I love that that is where you are in your life as well. Congratulations for that moment and I’m sure for all of the work and all of the journey that has gotten you to it.
Shireen Jaffer 42:05
Oh, thank you. I mean, I feel the same way for you. You know, let’s, let’s do a quick reflection. I mean, when you were, as you were growing up, I feel like we all kind of have this picture in our heads of how our life will be right and what we think we should be doing or where we want to end up. So throughout college or even before college, what image was that for you? Where did you really visualize yourself being and thinking back to that visualization? How does it compare to where you are now?
Rebecca Jacobs 42:39
And I want to hit close to home I felt for a while and you know, a good chunk of it was probably contributed by the fact that I was you know, with my single, single parent Mum, who worked several jobs to to kind of make ends meet, and I was someone that works from the age of 11, delivering the newspaper and babysitting and all of the above. So I think I, I kind of imagined that I would be in a place where I was financially stable. And it wasn’t something that I liked, that I felt or I liked that I was envisioning it but it seemed like the path The path to supporting my mum and being able to, you know, give back to her in the ways that she’d sacrificed for me. But it was always conflicting a little bit. It was like that was there. And so that was at the forefront and I kind of, you know, made a bunch of decisions at a younger age that that supported that narrative, but then at the same time, there was this like, you know, pull within me of, there’s more to this life than that you know it, you know, that, that your life is going to be Creative in ways that you can’t even imagine. And so I think that part of me has always been something that I, I’ve tried not to lose sight of, if even you know, for periods of time I, I kind of took direction that aligns more with that, that more external set of goals that I had. And I will say I I’ve kind of lived in both spheres, I’ve lived paycheck to paycheck, and I’ve lived comfortably. And it’s not something that I take lightly. And it’s it’s not something that I will ever look at anybody harshly for because I think there is a level of stability that, you know, does make a difference in our lives from a financial perspective. And, you know, that’s kind of the core of my own business model is to help nonprofits get to that level of stability so that they can sort of Be a little bit more free to do a work that excites them. But in that same thread, I don’t necessarily think that it it was valuable to me or it was serving me to be the driving force in my life. So So I think, you know, now where I’m at is I’m finally pulling that little, then the small voice that was nudging me in the other direction. I’m pulling it more towards you know that now and allowing myself to really embrace that kind of abstract vision of my life is just being an opportunity to learn and grow and experience things and hopefully share a little bit of that experience in a positive way. So it’s definitely you know, it was always there and but it’s become much more much more of a driver of my life now than it ever was before.
Shireen Jaffer 46:00
Yeah, I appreciate you sharing that I was talking to someone just this morning, actually. And this is someone who he’s well into his career. He’s built a very successful career. He’s always had this inkling, he was sharing this with me this morning, he’s always had this inkling that, you know, he, he doesn’t, he has so many opinions on capitalism and consumerism, and he has very strong opinions on, you know, what we’re doing to our world. However, he’s a marketer. And you know, he’s advertising and he’s, he’s obviously, working within consumerism, and he’s always been so afraid of speaking up about his opinions and how he actually feels because he also relies on the paycheck and he fears that if he speaks up about, you know, some of those topics that he’s not going to find work or that he’s not going he’s essentially going to pigeon holed himself and not be able to pay the bills. Because what pays the bills for him is doing marketing work and whatnot. And just now I think he’s now probably 15 years into his career, maybe 10 years into his career just now. He’s kind of having this realization of, well, I’ve spent a lot of my hours doing work I don’t align with and yes, they pay the bills. But, you know, how do I know that? I, by speaking up and actually sharing my opinion and my perspective and combining that with this incredible skill set he has, you know, he was asking himself well, what if that actually brings me projects that still pay the bills, but their projects around raising awareness for the type of initiatives I actually care about bringing to this world because now more than ever more people are doing, you know, are speaking up about how things are and why they don’t need to be the way they are and people are building successful businesses around those opinions. So it is very It is very Difficult to look at the money aspect of things. And then also, you know, respond to that poll that a lot of us I believe have have. Right? But like at what cost? or What does money really mean? And how does it help me create the life that I want to create? Whether it’s for my kids or myself or whatever it may be I I think that push and pull and those conflicting sides are there in a lot of people and there’s no right or wrong answer. I think it just comes down to how you think about it and and what your circumstance looks like. And you know, what options you’re able to identify for yourself. But I think stories like yours, really do help people at least, you know, hopefully get hope in but there are options out there and, and if you choose to listen to that voice in your head that’s pulling you in a different direction that it could lead to these beautiful possibilities that you cannot imagine right now. So again, I appreciate you sharing your story and, and, you know telling us about that journey.
Rebecca Jacobs 49:04
Yes, thank you so much for the opportunity to do so I, I think, you know, part of it is me just choosing to live this life and to make the most of it but I also think that my life being able to share it in places like this and in ways like this, it it makes it that much more meaningful for me and hopefully, like you said, hopefully, someone out there is able to feel some sort of way after hearing this.
Shireen Jaffer 49:37
So Rebecca, how can how can we follow along with Anika Works? How can we follow along with what you’re doing? How can our listeners listeners get in touch with you?
Rebecca Jacobs 49:45
Um, yes, so definitely keep an eye on us. We are somewhat in stealth mode right now. So we’re going to be releasing an updated website in a couple of weeks, but you can check us out at Annika dot works. And we also have, you know, all of the social medias. I’m terrible at all of them. But my co founder, Kaley is fantastic and she takes care of that for us. So it’s you could probably find us just by searching Anika Works but I think there might be like an underscore a period or something between the two words depending on the platform.
Get in Touch with Rebecca (50:23)
Shireen Jaffer 50:23
Awesome. And then if anyone wants to get in touch with you, Rebecca, what’s the best way to do that?
Rebecca Jacobs 50:29
Um, yeah, you can find me on LinkedIn. I know there are My name is pretty common. So there’s a bunch of me but yeah, hopefully we’ll be able to find me by searching my name and Anika works and also feel free to send me an email. It is just my first name so R EB E CCA at Anika dot works. Yeah, I’m, I’m around tonight. I think the one thing that I would love to be able to do for anyone that hears this and kind of wants, you know, to have someone listen to their story. is to be able to provide that listening ear for them if they’re at a different point in their journey and are kind of looking for, like you said that that feeling of support and community, because it is it can be lonely. And I think, you know, what are we all here for if not to support each other through our journeys?
Shireen Jaffer 51:20
Absolutely. And I love that I think communities are becoming so I mean, communities were always powerful. And now we’re seeing them take different shapes in, you know, in the digital landscape. So I appreciate you offering that and I hope people get in touch with you. And again, thank you so much, Rebecca, for being here and sharing your story.
Rebecca Jacobs 51:39
Thank you so much for having me. This was an absolute pleasure and I can’t wait to continue to get to know you offline.
Also, our CEO, Shireen Jaffer, hosts weekly virtual hangouts to bring people together. If you want to know when the next one is happening or get the curated email update,
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