Lost as a Teen, Found as a Motivational Speaker

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By Jean Briese, Founder of Jean Briese, LLC. Briese is a motivational speaker.

It was two weeks before Christmas, and while there should have been warm, cozy cocoa, the sounds of Christmas carols, and the scent of home-baked cookies, our house was as cold as the linoleum tile floors, with the sound of the TV droning on and on in the background. No Christmas cheer, no presents under the tree. And as Mom went out the door with her date, I didn't think anything about being left alone for yet another night while Mom was out.

But then she didn't return the next day. Or the next. Or the next. And as we started to run out of food, I knew I had to do something.

I waited for Mom to come back. Not unlike the reaction most of us had to COVID-19 and sheltering in place when it first occurred, we waited for "normal" to return. When I realized she wasn't coming back, I knew I had to take action. After all, at 15 years old, I was the oldest of my siblings.

Years later, as we began to realize that COVID-19 was going to be longer than any of us expected, we once again took action. We pivoted. But back then, I realized that while everything was the same, nothing was the same. I was thrown into a transition that I did not choose and that I did not want to be in. And I could not rush the transition.

Lost Teen on the Streets

It was time to make some decisions. I was a lost teen on the streets, couch-hopping and just trying to graduate high school. I had no idea what was next. But I did have a very strong conviction that I was going to live a good life and become a helper.

So I just kept doing the next right thing. I kept taking the next right step toward the life I wanted to live, toward the big dream where I saw myself as a leader and giving back. I believed in the dream, I believed in better things to come. And I kept doing the next right thing. 

"I was a lost teen on the streets, couch-hopping and just trying to graduate high school. I had no idea what was next."

Today, I have an accomplished career as an award-winning leader. I have a motivational-speaking business that has empowered thousands to do the thing they think they can't do. I was just honored as an Outstanding Business Woman in Phoenix and received a bronze Stevie Award as the Female Solo Entrepreneur of the Year. As president of the Phoenix chapter of NAWBO, we were recognized with a Silver Stevie Award for the "Most Valuable Response from a Nonprofit During COVID 19." But what I am most proud of is all the others I have empowered along the way to achieve their dreams. 

Now, because of COVID-19, we have all been thrown into a transition that we did not choose. And try as we might, we can't rush it.

What's next? I have no idea. Like all of us, I am in transition again — just doing the next right thing every day. Only this time, I have the experience to know that we don't always have the answers when we want them. But if we keep taking the next right step, good things will present themselves, and we will be ready.   

Keep believing. Keep taking the next right step. I can't wait to see how it all comes together for you.


Jean Briese, motivational speaker, is Founder of Jean Briese, LLC. passionate about living the life she loves all the time — and empowering others to do the same.

CircleAround is partnering with NAWBO (the National Association of Women Business Owners) in a series of posts exploring the following prompt: "What comes next?" Founded in 1975, NAWBO is the unified voice of over 10 million women-owned businesses in the United States.

Tags: Navigating the Pandemic, Tips from Women Executives, NAWBO, Overcoming Adversity

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