I had the pleasure of interviewing Jaclyn DiGregorio, a keynote speaker, bestselling author and the founder of Cusp It. After overcoming a college eating disorder, Jaclyn started Cusp It during her senior year at Georgetown University. Cusp It’s mission is to help women build confidence, by providing them with tools to cultivate a healthy relationship with food and their bodies. Jaclyn has spoken at 75 college campuses across the U.S. sharing her story of eating disorder recovery and starting her own company at 21 years old.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How did you get to be where you are right now?
Jaclyn DiGregorio is a bestselling author, keynote speaker and entrepreneur. Jaclyn is the founder and CEO of Cusp It, a wellness brand on a mission to help women develop a high level of self-confidence, by providing them with tools to cultivate a healthy relationship with food and their bodies. Named one of Thrive Global’s “Inspiring Young Authors,” Jaclyn has spoken at 75 college campuses across the U.S. sharing her story of eating disorder recovery and starting her own company at 21 years old. Jaclyn inspires audiences and readers to conquer their insecurities and stop fearing failure. She is a 2017 graduate of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? How did this quality help you overcome obstacles on the path of becoming an influential and inspiring leader?
I am most definitely an extrovert. In 2nd grade, my teacher wrote a note to my parents on my report card about how I talk too much in class. Though this might not have helped me in the “conduct” category of my childhood report cards, it has most definitely helped me as a business leader. Because I feel an innate sense of comfort conversing with new people, I am quick to share my passions with others. This has helped me make the right connections to take my business to the next level. It also has helped me in my ability to lead a team and most importantly in my ability to command an audience’s attention when I’m on stage speaking.
What does it mean to be mentally-strong in the hyper-competitive world of running a business or an organization?
Mental strength is the ability to get back up again every time you fall. The world of business today is incredibly competitive. Further, entrepreneurship is glorified as the “dream career” where you can fast-track to driving expensive cars and traveling the world. Unfortunately, this is far from what entrepreneurship is actually like. Being a real entrepreneur, who commits to their business on good days and on bad days- that’s mental strength. Failing and waking up to work hard again the next day is mental strength. Seeing failure as opportunity is mental strength.
A lot of people in the business world feel as if talking about mental health makes them appear weak. How do you feel about showing mental strength and setting an example of what it takes to have a strong mental stamina to succeed?
As an entrepreneur whose business is founded on the fact that I struggled with my mental health, I can confidently say that using your leadership position to speak out about mental health struggles makes you stronger, not weaker. I’ve found that people connect the most with me when I share my deepest insecurities. Not only does it help me overcome these insecurities, it also helps other people realize they are not alone in their mental health struggles.
Is there a particular person, a book, or place of wisdom that has inspired you to become a successful and mentally-strong leader?
Rachel Hollis and her book Girl, Wash Your Face, was incredibly helpful in building my mental toughness. Rachel touches on everything from goal setting to your workout routine. Following Rachel on Instagram and listening to her Rise podcast, where she often gives tips about growing a successful business has also been incredibly impactful for me, and I would highly recommend her book and podcast to any young leaders.
Can you give us 5 tips on maintaining strong mental health stamina to succeed in the modern business world? Tell us a little about why each point matters.
- Find a routine that makes you feel good and stick with it. I wake up at 5am every day and do yoga. Each night, I am in bed by 8pm reading a self-help or personal development book for about an hour before falling asleep. These habits have helped me feel refreshed and excited which allows me to bring passion and innovation to my work.
- If you’re an entrepreneur, don’t spend all your time alone. Extreme loneliness can be debilitating. Join your local entrepreneurship community or work out of a co-working space or coffee shop. I learned this the hard way after feeling “cooped up” and burnt out after constantly working from home. I later realized this was simply loneliness.
- Read self-help and personal development books. I can’t tell you how much I have learned from the vast number of books I’ve read on these topics. I am on a lifelong journey to become more introspective and constantly be evolving and improving. Reading is incredibly relaxing, so it’s a great habit and it’s a win-win when the books you are reading positively impact your work as a business owner.
- Dream big but set realistic goals along the way. There is a different between dreams and goals. The sky is the limit on our dreams. And if you’re really a dreamer, your dreams will grow with you, so you will always be working towards them. Goals however, are logical steps that help us get closer to our dreams. We need to set goals that stretch us but are also realistic enough that we don’t become discouraged.
- Find the balance between not making excuses and self-care. This line is a tough one to walk. Should I sleep in a few more hours because I’ve been working late the past few nights? Should I skip my work out because my body feels tired? I am constantly walking this line between what is “self-care” and what is an “excuse.” If you want to be successful, you cannot make excuses. Your ability to achieve success is in your own hands. That being said, if you want to be successful you also have to take care of yourself. If you don’t get enough sleep, the quality of your work will suffer. If you don’t take enough time off, you will burn out. Find the balance that feels right for you.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
The most important message I’d like to emphasize about success and mental stamina, is you will only be successful if you open yourself up to failure. You can do anything you put your mind to- but putting your mind to it may take much longer than you’d like it to. When I was a kid, success was an easy formula. Hard work = success. I studied for a test, I earned a good grade. It was that simple. As I became more challenged though my education at Georgetown and through my entrepreneurial ventures, I found that this formula is much more complicated. It’s more like hard work + failure + detour + stress + overcoming those things = success. But at the end of the day, I still believe you can do anything you put your mind to. Successful entrepreneurs are the ones who don’t give up. It really is that simple.
In 2019, what will be the best way to recharge energy?
In 2019, the best way to recharge energy is sitting down with an inspirational book. This is why every night, I read before bed. In 2019, my goal is to read one new book per week. The books I choose are focused on self-help, personal development and business development. It’s so freeing to read about other people who “get it” and have been where you are today. It’s also a great way to disconnect from our constantly digitized world. I always read physical books, not eBooks because I like to spend this time of recharging without technology in hand.
If the readers of this interview series would like to read more about you, how they can reach out?
I would love to connect further with anyone who felt inspired by this interview. You can find me on Instagram @jaclyndigregorio or on my website jaclyndigregorio.com. You can learn more about Cusp It on Instagram @cusp.it or on our website cuspit.com.
Originally published at thriveglobal.com.