So often I get caught up in the 'whats next' phenomenon you referred to that I forget to enjoy the moment. I take 15 credits, work 30 hours, and hold leadership positions in two important organizations… and I seem to think that the daily grind is all that matters. Your speech totally put things into perspective for me, so I just wanted to say thank you.
- Kelsey, Slippery Rock Univ.
- The Real Story: What's Behind Our Perfect Profiles
- The #UltimateBucketList Challenge
- Headbands of Hope: How One College Student Refused to Wait to Make a Difference
- Inspire, not Require
- Self Made Success: Making College Count
The Real Story: What's Behind our Perfect Profiles
When Jess first started her company, Headbands of Hope, as a college student, she had a rough start. She wired $10k (of all the money she had) and a loan from her dad, to a manufacturer for her first round of production. After the money was wired, she never heard from them again and the money disappeared. She thought about giving up, but realized she believed in the business too much to let it go before it began. She brushed herself off, got a $300 grant from her university, and created a million- dollar company that has impacted hundreds of thousands of kids with cancer. Jess was discouraged in the beginning when she saw other people’s success stories on social media or in articles. She thought, ‘why is it so easy for them and so hard for me?’ She didn’t understand why she was running into so many hurdles and didn’t feel like anyone else was until her mom forwarded an article from the founder of Airbnb. He leaked five investor rejection emails who passed on the opportunity to get in early on Airbnb. The emails showed rejection after rejection, stating the potential market opportunity isn’t big enough or they just flat out weren’t interested. Airbnb is now a $31 billion-dollar company. The article showed Jess that it wasn’t just an ‘aha’ moment that exploded overnight into a household name (which is how a lot of people paint their story). In fact, each failure made her stronger. When people are honest and disclose the real story about their start before their success, it humanizes the hustle. You don’t have to graduate from a top school or have years of high-level experience to do great things. You can make mistakes (big ones, too) and still make it. But when we pretend it’s smooth sailing or blame our success to luck or being in the right place at the right time, it paints a false picture that can make people turn around at the first sign of adversity. This keynote will tell an honest tale of Jess and others who went for their dreams, whether that’s starting a business, getting your dream job, running a race, or becoming the school mascot. Students will learn to humanize the success by honoring the struggle.
- that every expert they know was once a beginner,
- how failures are not opposite of success, they’re part of the success,
- that in order to be resilient, you have to believe in the end result.
The #UltimateBucketList ChallengeIf you could do anything during your lifetime, what would it be? What actions are you taking today to get you there? Many of us imagine a list of goals we want to achieve, but sometimes they don’t get put into motion. Jess says there are two things that stand between us and our bucket list: the courage to try and the belief that we can. In her keynote, Jess Ekstrom challenges students to build their bucket list with a personal plan and timeline for making it happen. She captivates the audience by incorporating personal stories from when she was young and auditioned for the show All That, to when she went to college and started a million-dollar business from her dorm room. She also references bucket list stories from others, like the time when her sister ran 100 miles straight. Jess explains in detail how to move forward with our passions, even when we have moments of uncertainty or are afraid to fail. At the end of the keynote, students will leave with one bucket list item personal to them and a deadline of one year to achieve it. But the most important thing they’ll leave with is the spark of motivation to go for it!
- the power of perspective and how to effectively readjust outlooks to accommodate open-minded thinking and positivity,
- an effective goal-setting process and how to establish a realistic timeline to ensure completion, and
- the value of personal growth, commitment, and accountability, along with strategies for application in all aspects of life.
Headbands of Hope: How One College Student Refused to Wait to Make a Difference
So many college students want to make a difference, and plan to do it “someday.” Jess is living proof that a college student with an amazing idea and a willingness to act on it need not wait. College students can build companies, affect change, and solve problems before graduation, if they have the commitment.
In her campus keynote, Jess shares her journey creating Headbands of Hope, a company that gives headbands to girls battling cancer. Through her story, she encourages audience members to change awareness of issues into action. “Awareness is only skimming the surface of change,” she said. “When we focus on action instead of just awareness, things really change.”
Jess is a great choice for programs that encourage leadership, social change and making the most of your college experience. Consider her whenever you are promoting service and social change to students.
· Learning the importance and impact of internships
· How to use college to launch your idea
· Don’t wait until you have “experience” to start following your dreams
Inspire, Not Require
Has community service become a requirement? Something we have to do to please those evaluating us? From college applications to campus awards, so many students are engaging in service projects within their organizations. But, are they really making the connection to the good work they are doing?
In this keynote, Jess Ekstrom encourages student leaders to “redefine philanthropy” from a requirement to a lifestyle. “We’re so worried about crossing philanthropy and service requirements off our list that we forget the purpose behind it. We forget to feel the passion.”
Jess uses examples from her own development as a student leader and philanthropic professional. As founder of Headbands of Hope, she has learned the amazing power of service – changing thousands of children’s lives. She understands that service often means doing grunt work, but she knows how a connection to those who are served makes all of it extremely worthwhile.
If students at your campus need to make a stronger connection between their service activities and the ethics of service, this program will open their eyes and hearts. If you are planning a large campus service event (dance marathon, Relay for Life, etc.), Jess will get your coordinators better equipped to communicate the crucial messages to other students.
· Treat philanthropy as a lifestyle, not a requirement
· How to inspire your peers to take action instead of forcing them
· Don’t stop at awareness of social issues, focus on action
Self Made Success: Making College Count
When Jess started college, she wanted to become a better public speaker, so she taught fitness classes and became a campus tour guide. When she wanted to jump start her career, she worked with the campus career center and landed an internship with the Today Show. When she needed to make friends, she took a leap and joined a flag-football league. When she wanted to start a business, she worked with the business school to create Headbands of Hope.
During her keynote, Jess stresses the importance of maximizing each opportunity that presents itself during college. She shares her own stories, tips, and tricks that she found helped her succeed not only during college, but also in building her dream career as a business owner and philanthropist. Broken down into four key areas students are eager to hear about, Jess walks them through being successful in the classroom, getting involved on campus, being safe on the weekends, and making preparations now for life after college.
· College isn’t the best 4 years of your life, but we can use it to create the best life we can have.
· What to do in college to prepare for a professional career
· Making the most of the resources given to you on a college campus
For bookings, contact here.