Jessica: OK. So, this is really crazy, that I wanted my listeners to get the story behind the story of this whole book, because today is the day where Imperfect Courage is really out into the world. Like, if you order it on Prime, you’ll be getting it tomorrow. And this is nutso, so, so nutso. And I really wanted my "Going Scared" listeners to get that story behind the story. And I thought, "Well, who else could interview me that has actually lived this message with me, walked with me for the past eight years through it all?" And of course, I thought of one of my best friends, Jennie Allen. Jennie Allen is the author of multiple books. Hopefully, you’ve read plenty of them. And she’s also one of my best friends. Our kids are from the same orphanage in Rwanda. Cooper is her son, and Jack is mine. And Jennie… Jennie, you encouraged me to write this book.
Jennie: Yeah. Well, yeah. It was easy because I got to watch firsthand this incredible, beautiful thing called Noonday be birthed. And what was fun is I was launching an organization at nearly the exact same time, as well as we adopted our boys the same time. So, we were juggling so many different things, that, gosh, we walked through this together. And so much of the things that you talk about in this book just…we talked about over the phone or over coffee. And it was just encouraging to see it in print, to see this story that is so powerful. It is so powerful. A plate laid out in this way. It’s absolutely exciting. And I’m so happy for you. Congratulations. It’s a huge day and it’s a day to celebrate because the road to getting to this point, I know. Besides just writing the book, it’s also the living of the book that’s so costly, so.
Jessica: Well, and tomorrow night, I’ll be in Dallas with you, celebrating in person. So, if you guys are in Dallas, it’s not too late to go get a ticket. Go to jessicahonegger.com for a ticket. OK, so Jennie, this is really crazy. I’m sure we’re gonna cry and laugh so hard over the next hour. But I remember when…and I write this whole story in my book, but it was like we had been…already had done the hard, hard work of getting all of our paperwork to Rwanda. You and I actually both had identified sons, which was not the case for most people. But through sort of a series of circumstances, we had a hunch of exactly…like, we had a person, a little person, that we knew was gonna be ours. And then, Rwanda’s like, "Nope. We just can’t." Like, there’s too much going on, things have escalated, and unless you get your paperwork to Rwanda in the next 24 hours, like, you’re not gonna get your kid. And thankfully, the embassy in DC, classified as Rwanda, accounted, and I needed a few more pieces. You were a little further along than me. You just needed one last little piece of paperwork. And we had not met.
So, we did not know each other. And then someone’s like, "OK. Jennie Allen. She’s waiting. She just has this one thing that she needs to change. Can you take her paperwork for her?" So, I’m like, OK. So, I rush around, getting my paperwork signed. And then I remember, I went by your house, and I think you were in the middle of a Bible study or something. Like, you had women over. And I was like, "So, what do you do?" And you were like, "Oh, you know, I got my theological degree and I went to seminary, and now I just love to teach women Bible studies." I’m like, "Oh, that’s interesting." And you’re like, "Oh, I like your earrings." And I’m like, "Oh, yeah. I have this little thing that I started to try to raise money to bring Jack home." And like, that’s how we met. And then I, like, took your paperwork. I begged and borrowed and did everything I could to get all of the signatures that we needed in DC. And you got Cooper a few minutes later, I got Jack, and then that was, like, the beginning of our friendship, which is kind of where this book started.
Jennie: It’s exactly where it started.
Jessica: It was crazy.
“It is so fitting for me to be interviewing you because, not only is this the story of your life and Jack’s life, it’s the story of so many women’s lives.” Jennie Allen
Jennie: Well, I know. And when I picked up the book for the first time, I was like, "Oh, we’re starting at the beginning of our relationship." Like, this is exactly where it started. So, it is so fitting for me to be interviewing you because, not only is this the story of your life and Jack’s life, it’s the story of so many women’s lives. Just because from that day and your cute earrings, it has gone on and reached the world. Noonday has shaped the lives of thousands upon thousands of women. And that’s just the jobs, not the cute jewelry that everybody has partnered with and the people that feel like they’re a part of helping the mission because they buy the jewelry. So, let’s talk big picture before we go into the story, the individual stories. And let’s talk about what this means for you to see this on paper, to see this huge, beautiful thing that has grown so fast. I mean, I’m sure you’ve barely had time to take it in over these years, Jess. So, what was that like to put your life on paper, and really, the miracle of Noonday down?
Imperfect Courage: Collaboration Behind the Scenes
Jessica: You know, that is the gift of writing a book. And I would wish it for anyone. I really would. I mean, I know maybe not everyone wants to write or can get published or all of that stuff. But the actual process of stopping was, honestly, that was one of the biggest gifts. I could cry…start thinking about it because I was doing that this time last year. I was holed up writing this thing. And it’s true, I mean, the journey has been so crazy. And when you’re running something and building something, as you know, as the founder of IF: Gathering, you have got meetings, you’ve got people to boss and manage, and you’ve got marketing campaigns to design, and you’ve got interviews to do. And, you know, I’m designing jewelry and I’m the chief creative officer, as well as the Co-CEO of Noonday. And so, there really was not a lot of just stopping looking back. And there’s just something so powerful about stopping and celebrating. And you and I, we’re both sevens on the Enneagram and we don’t do this well. Like, we are always ready to go, "OK. That’s done. What’s next?"
“There’s just something so powerful about stopping and celebrating.
And, you know, that’s also how we get to do what we do. Like, there is such a beauty that I’m a catalyzer and I’m an activator and that I have a bias towards action and that I’m always on the go. But the underbelly of that is not stopping and simply looking back and celebrating. And not just celebrating, but also being able to see the story and the threads that have been woven together and that are, you know, creating a future too. And so, I think for me, even though the process was extremely challenging, like actually writing a book that is, you know…I had a lot of help involved. So, I had midwives. I worked with a coach who really helped me create the framework of the book and the story arc, and taught me how you go back and forth between time and how do you actually form a narrative. And then, we have someone on our Noonday Collection team who is our full content strategist. And she and I have worked together for five years now and just had been writing partners for a long time.
And so, whenever I got stuck, I kind of got to go, "Here. You take it." And then, I have another person who was on our team for many years. A dear friend of mine, Lindsay, and she was our corporate strategist, and prior to that, was a strategist for really large companies and has a Harvard MBA. And she has this knack of being able to take like 5,000 words and then condense them down to, like, 20, and it still says the same powerful thing. Yeah. And so, I worked with her. And I am someone…and the whole second part of my book is about that, it’s about not going at it alone. And I think when you imagine a book writing process, I feel like it has this perception of like, you hole up and you do it alone and you just write away and you don’t bathe for days and you’re drinking coffee and you’re smoking your cigarettes and you’re not eating and whatever. There’s like the brooding author image we get in our heads, and I’m like, "Man, that does not sound fun to me at all." And I think once I realized that, "Oh, other people want to partner with me in this and I can do it with…" and, you know? I mean, I would call you up and be like, "I’m stuck on this. I’m so stuck. What do I do?" You know? I think that is really what helped me to be able to move forward. And even though, just like in childbirth, we romanticize our past, like, we’d never have more children. I think we have to do that with a book because, yeah, I mean, it is so challenging to…
Jennie: How beautiful that you wrote this book in the same way you live, which is in collaboration. I’ll remind you the many days you called me a mess. You were like, "This is horrible." Yes. And so, yeah, I do. But I will say this, Jess: how beautiful that you wrote this book in the same way you live, which is in collaboration. And you modeled this so well, top to bottom. And you modeled that well for me with the book process too. Honestly, I always say the process is a big group project where one person gets the credit. But it’s so good to tell people behind the scenes, it’s so true, that they’re really… All writers are working with teams of people to create something like this.
Jessica: Well, I had, right? I think it was just five months before writing, starting to write Imperfect Courage, I had sat in with you on I think what became Nothing to Prove. At one point, it was like, first… I mean, it was so many things. It was so many things, and I think walking that process with you was super helpful. Like, I remember being… I was on a trip to Peru and you were like, "My book title is due tomorrow." And I’m like, "OK. We got this." We were like tossing back names. And definitely having walked through that with you, like the title process, and the…
Jennie: Cover process. Yeah.
Jessica: …the cover process. And then, even, you know, writing out an outline and a framework with you one day, when you were kind of in the war room doing that, it was really helpful for me. So, I mean, I don’t take it lightly that God totally hooked me up with…I have so many dear friends and maker. Shonaniqua’s helped me attend… She’s the one who connected me to my agent, and also to Ashley, one of the people who collaborated with me. I mean, you know, I got some people in my court that had walked before me, and that was obviously really helpful. Which, for anyone listening right now who’s, like, thinking about writing a book, let this be… You now, sometimes I think we can look at people who are like, "Oh, she’s got friends that are authors." Well, you know, you’ve got podcasts. I can be in your brain trust, girl. You don’t have to know me in real life for me to be in your brain trust. I mean, I got so many people in my brain trust that are dead, you know?
Influences Behind Imperfect Courage
Jennie: Well, let’s talk about that. Because I do think that I saw that. I mean, I know the people you read and listen to, Jess, because we’re such good friends. But it was cool to see the way that their ideas and their heartbeat really shaped you as a person, which, of course, came out in the book too. So, let’s talk about that. Like, who are some of the people that you listened to in the process of writing this and that you have read that really shaped your understanding of business, your understanding of doing life and community, because that’s such a theme in the book?
Jessica: Right. You know, when I first started Noonday, I was doing it alone in so many ways. And we hadn’t built like a collective of women who were kind of momming and entrepreneuring at the same time. And I had littles, I had three littles under five. And a lot of my friends were homeschooling, and they… It was my own fault, like, it’s not their fault. Like, when we compare ourselves to others and find ourselves not measuring up, please don’t blame your friends. Like, they’re living their lives in the way that they feel called to live it. But it’s when we compare ourselves to them and then measure ourselves by a standard that’s never meant to be ours. And for some reason, I would compare myself to my homeschooling mom friends who were clearly walking in what they’re supposed to be doing, but that wasn’t obviously what I was meant to do. And that’s when I turned to books. I turned to books to not feel alone.
And I remember reading Tina Fey’s "Bossypants" and, you know, she walked such an incredible path to becoming a comedian and kind of momming, and then also, kind of setting the bar for females in the comedienne industry, which is still…women are such a minority and… Women still are a huge minority. And being able to start and scale businesses, so I felt a lot of camaraderie there. Of course, Brene Brown, who had such a deep influence on my life and, you know, I’m just so humbled that she actually endorsed this book. Actually, I’m humbled that she actually read the book. That was like one of the scariest three weeks of my life. I was like, "Brene Brown has my book. She is reading my book, and she will either endorse it or not." That was frightening.
Choosing Courage and Going Scared
Jennie: There was no question. Isn’t it funny, though? Because yeah, we scare easily.
Jessica: We scare so easily. If you know my podcast, you just kind of go scared. But yeah, I mean, up until today, I’m still scared. But yeah, her work, gosh. I mean, Daring Greatly , I Thought It Was Just Me (But It isn’t). Eventually, Rising Strong, and then. I keep thinking I don’t understand how she keeps coming up with ways to write ideas that are so meaningful. And then, Andy Crouch has been a huge influence upon me. His work, Playing God really reframed power for me. And, you know, I talk a lot about my own struggle with comparison and scarcity mentality, and his work really helped me to understand just this abundant mindset that we live in this mindset and that we get to partner with God in creating good in the world. I mean, his work has been super profound. Gary Haugen, who was actually our guest on the podcast. The first guest on this series. You know, he really started writing about courage a long time ago, and reframing what courage could mean and kind of calling out that everyday hero. And gosh, I mean, those are some of the people that definitely helped give me a framework to not feel alone, and then, it’s crazy too… Yeah, now I have a book. With Google and God…you can change the world with those two things.
Taking Off the Bubble Wrap
Jennie: Yeah. And you’re gonna do that for so many other people. And honestly, we haven’t even mentioned the name of the book. The book is called Imperfect Courage. And if you have not ordered it on Amazon, you need to go do that right now. You will want to order it, especially at the end of this podcast, you’re going to want to. So, go do it right now. But what I love about this book is, friend, it’s so real. It’s so real. And I can say, because I got to watch it, it was lived as beautifully as it was written. And that’s saying something. And so, what I love about this book… Let’s get into the book. Because it is so challenging. And what’s challenging about it…and you say it early. You talk about the bubble wrap that Andy Crouch mentions, about protecting our lives, that we oftentimes bubble wrap our lives. And it’s a gift that privilege gives us. But you really challenged us to take it off. You say, "This is something that doesn’t actually build a fulfilling life." Talk about that for a minute, about the risk and the initial jumping that Noonday required, that adoption required. This courage that you preach, it’s been costly.
“That’s lots of therapy that’s helped me to realize that. Like, eight years ago, I just felt wacky and rejected and a mess and fearful, you know?” Jessica Honegger
Jessica: It has. It has, and yet I think it’s the invitation that we’re all given, is we’re each invited into this life where we can choose courage over comfort. And I think for me, you know, this journey has been one long journey in getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. And that just hasn’t stopped. Like, it still hasn’t stopped, it’s been a year, and I’m like, "Wow. It’s still uncomfortable." But for me, I think, for so long, I let fear sideline me, instead of making it my friend. And I was just afraid and… When I think back to that first trunk show, I really was the middle school girl in that moment. And I was just…for some reason, the fear that’s most real to me, and I talk about this in my book, is this lie that I’m alone in the world and that it’s all on me. So, it’s like, I’m ultimately alone and it’s gonna be on me to solve and figure it out and get it done. And I didn’t know that at the time. That’s lots of therapy that’s helped me to realize that. Like, eight years ago, I just felt wacky and rejected and a mess and fearful, you know? And I think that… I remember, we were broke. I mean, we had this real estate company and we had a nest egg and we had decided to adopt.
We knew that we wanted to bring Jack into our family through adoption. And we had two kids already, and I think for our third, it was just like, "You know what? Like, we don’t have to do this the old-fashioned way. There’s a lot of ways to bring a child into the family." And we decided, OK, we’re gonna land on international adoption. And of course, it was crazy because the moment we decide…and we decided and then we felt like it was confirmed. Like, the crazy, crazy story is once people kind of got word, oh, we’re kind of researching international adoption, one of my friends was in Rwanda and he was actually there interviewing to work for International Justice Mission, and he met a woman named Jennifer, who had just finished an adoption of a Rwandan little boy. And she was wanting to help American families adopt. And so, he emailed me and he said, "Hey, I heard that you’re maybe considering adoption. I met this woman, Jennifer. I mean, you want me to connect you?" And I’m like, "That’s crazy." I mean, Rwanda? I didn’t even… Of course, I knew about Rwanda from Hotel Rwanda and the genocide, but it was not on my radar at all. And I was like, "Yeah. Yeah. Sure. Get her in touch," you know? We’ll see.
Well, then I thought, OK, what do we do? With Google and God…you can change the world with those two things. So, I Google international adoption in Rwanda. And the first blog that pops up, I’m reading it, and I’m like, "OK." You know, this girl’s kind of breaking it down. And I ended up just filling out her contact me. So, I contact. "Hey, I’m thinking about adopting from Rwanda." And she reaches back out. She’s like, "Oh, that’s so crazy. I’m in Austin. Like, do you wanna get together?" And I was like, "Oh, cool. Sure." So, then I go to her About You page, just so that I know I’m not gonna meet an ax murderer. I click on the About You page and there is a picture of Emily Ferrar Schultz, who was my college roommate. And then, in fact, she’s like, "Yeah, there’s a bunch of girls from my church that are adopting." That was you. That was Lara Choi. That was her. I mean, I was like, "What?" Like, there’s only 250 kids in the entire country that year that were adopted from Rwanda, and here are…four of them were right here in Austin, Texas? So, that was a huge obvious confirmation. But the moment then we started walking down that road, and we were kind of comforted. You know, we had our little bubble wrap of a nest egg that we had been…
Safety in Self-Reliance vs Courage in Taking Help
Honestly, I didn’t say this in the book, but we’d actually been given money a couple of Christmases in a row from my parents, and we just kind of like stashed that. And we were like, "Great. We have that stashed cash and that’s what we’re gonna use for this $25,000 decision." Well, suddenly, our real estate business just falls apart. I mean, completely falls apart. To the point where we are putting groceries on the credit card. I think it was like we decided to adopt, and then six months later, we literally are like there’s not only no nest egg anymore, we’re actually shuffling around credit cards. But I knew, well, God didn’t change His mind, you know? And I think that is part of that bubble wrap moment. I think we want to lean into these comfortable little things that we’ve set up, like, yeah, we’re taking a risk. But still, there’s some self-reliance there, right? Because I’m all alone in the world, and ultimately, I’m the one who’s gonna have to figure this out, right? So, then there’s this moment where it’s like, if I don’t reach out for help, this isn’t gonna happen. And that mortified me, you know? Which, it’s funny, because I saw you just put this on your Instagram this week. Like, people reach out for help. And I find that that alone is such a moment of ripping the bubble wrapper off for so many women.
“I think some people just wanna be independent, self-reliant. Some people feel like they don’t wanna be, you know, have to return a favor or don’t wanna appear weak or don’t wanna inconvenience others, or whatever it might be, but there is that moment where it’s like, if I don’t bring other people into this, then this is simply not going to happen.” Jessica Honegger
And I think the motivation is different. I think some people just wanna be independent, self-reliant. Some people feel like they don’t wanna be, you know, have to return a favor or don’t wanna appear weak or don’t wanna inconvenience others, or whatever it might be, but there is that moment where it’s like, if I don’t bring other people into this, then this is simply not going to happen. And so, I knew, OK, they are asking other people for help or it’s starting something where I need to ask people to buy, purchase something from me. And of course, you know, at that time, I had previously, when we were in that…six months previous, when we were in the adoption phase, the research phase, we had actually taken a trip to Uganda in order to go meet up with some friends, and then also sort of begin to research the international adoption process. And on that trip, my friends living there had said, "We have a crate of African goods sitting in America. Would you wanna try to sell it? You can even use some of that money for your adoption." And I had totally blown them off. I was like, "Are you kidding me? I’ve got like a real estate company. I’ve got two little kids." I’m like, I’m not gonna start selling African stuff. I mean, thank you. Gosh, I hope that goes well for you.
“I was afraid. Like, people were gonna come to my house and see, because I didn’t just sell the jewelry. I was selling, like, my grandma’s dishes and all my clothes. Oh yeah, girl. Like, my entire house was basically for sale.” Jessica Honegger
And then, six months later, I’m like, "Hey, guys. Is that stuff still sitting around?" And they’re like, "Yes. Totally. In fact, Jessica, you can just have it. Like, take it. We’ve already paid the artisans. Just take it." And in that moment, I did. I took it for free. I mean, I just had to accept that gift. And then, I had to ask people, "Are you gonna be a part of this? Are you gonna purchase from me?" And I was just so afraid. I was afraid that no one was gonna show up. I was afraid of how I was gonna be perceived, because we still were trying to have this real estate career. Well, who wants to hire a failing, like, "Oh my god, they’re broke and they have this real estate company. I don’t wanna hire them." So, I was afraid. Like, people were gonna come to my house and see, because I didn’t just sell the jewelry. I was selling, like, my grandma’s dishes and all my clothes. Oh yeah, girl. Like, my entire house was basically for sale.
Courage Out of Desperation
“Let me also say to all of you, that in this season of struggle, whatever that struggle is, it’s possible that desperation could be the birthplace of something.” Jennie Allen on the beginning of Noonday Collection
Jennie: So, I wanna pause you right here because this is so big. And I wanna fast forward. For those of you that have not heard of Noonday, I just want you to understand what we’re talking about. When you’re hearing the beginnings of this, I want you to understand that Noonday in 2015 was named one of the Top 40 fastest growing companies by "Inc. Magazine." So, in case you don’t have perspective of these humble beginnings. But, let me also say to all of you, that in this season of struggle, whatever that struggle is, it’s possible that desperation could be the birthplace of something. And honestly, Noonday, because I was there, I can say with integrity that this is not exaggerating. Noonday does not exist unless there was desperation. Jess?
“I was cornered by courage…I really want that to encourage people, because I think so many people are waiting until this moment of fearlessness.” Jessica Honegger
Jessica: That’s true. I mean, it’s absolutely true because Joe and I had raised our salary before in our early 20s, when we had lived overseas with Food for the Hungry. And I was like, "There’s no way. I am not about to go fundraise." I just did not wanna do that. And of course, friends still gave us checks along the way throughout our adoption process too. But yeah, there was that moment of like, I was cornered by courage. I was cornered by courage. And, you know, I think that that just… I really want that to encourage people, because I think so many people are waiting until this moment of fearlessness. And they’re waiting until they’re like, "Not gonna mess up." And, you know, you and I both struggled with this fear of success. Like, well, gosh, what if this is wildly successful and I’m gonna become proud, and I’m gonna hear so much about myself? Well then, I can’t do it, you know? Or, what if this fails and then I drag other people down and I go into debt? Well, then, I’m not gonna do it. We can spin around and around with our what ifs. And thanks to the gift of Google, we can be in analysis paralysis forever. Thanks to the gift of social media, we can compare our very beginnings to someone else’s endings all day long. We can sit all day long, all week long, and just scroll and think that you’re actually moving forward with your thing when all you’re doing is moping and drowning in comparison.
“We can spin around and around with our what ifs. And thanks to the gift of Google, we can be in analysis paralysis forever.” Jessica Honegger
And I just think in that moment, it was desperate, but courage cornered me. Now, it didn’t feel like courage. It felt like desperation. That’s what it felt like. But in that moment, it was like, OK, I’m just gonna stand up and I’m gonna go scared. I’m gonna invite people over, no matter what. If this does look desperate to some people, then so be it. Maybe it will, and they will never hire us to be their realtor. Oh, well. Maybe no one will come. OK. That’s OK. At least I had a night of actually cleaning my house, getting ready for people. And, you know what? People came. And that was the thing. People came. Because I believe women want to show up for one another. Like, I believe we are wired for sisterhood. We have a reputation for tearing each other down, for being catty, for elbowing instead of reaching out a hand. But I believe, I mean, if you look through the ages, I mean, we are tribal. I mean, we raise each other’s kids. I mean, there is not a country that I do not go visit where I am completely confused, usually, if there’s like a little three-year-old and a group of women, and I’m like I have no idea who this momma is, because the momma is the us. And that’s how we are wired.
The Power of Women Who Work Together
“We wanna do sisterhood when everything’s gonna turn out great. But that’s not really what sisterhood is. Sisterhood is the imperfect, the ugly, the, I am not leaving until you’re OK. And that is the kind of sisterhood that I have been able to experience over the last eight years…” Jessica Honegger
I think American culture has driven us into isolation and self-sufficiency. But I think when we choose the sisterhood way, the tribal way, that, my friends, is where the magic happens. And that’s what happened for me. It wasn’t the solo-preneur. And then, after that first night, people came. And then the next day, it was like, "OK. I mean, I think I could do this again." Like, well, maybe someone else will open her home for me. And I texted my friends in Uganda and said, "OK. It sold." And they said, "Well, you know what, why not buy it?" Like, "We wanna connect you with Jalia and Daniel" who ended up becoming my first artisan partners, "and why don’t you see if you can actually turn this into a business." So, I was like, "OK." I mean, I didn’t know what I was doing. We went and set up a Western Union account. What’s crazy is that Jalia and Daniel didn’t know what they were doing. I mean, it was hilarious. Jalia finally admitted this year, which I loved. She’s like, "Jessica, we didn’t know how to make paper beads. When you placed that first order, we had no idea." Like, no. They had walked by a woman living in the slums that was making them and was like, "Can you teach us how to do this?"
“I think American culture has driven us into isolation and self-sufficiency. But I think when we choose the sisterhood way, the tribal way, that, my friends, is where the magic happens.” Jessica Honegger
Jennie: Oh, my goodness. And then they end up hiring hundreds.
Jessica: Oh, yeah. Four hundred people now that work for them. But it’s not because we had expertise. But, you know what, we had grit, we had desire, and I think desire to see flourishing come, you know? Because this was for Jack, but ultimately, very quickly, the success of Noonday was now completely tied in to the success of Jalia and Daniel as well. And man, once you start linking arms with people, and it’s not just about your failure. I mean, it’s safe to go, "Oh, OK. It’s just me. It’s not really gonna hurt other people if this fails. Maybe, like, my pride will be wounded." But when you bring other people along and your failure would actually impact others, I mean, that sisterhood, right? Like, we wanna do sisterhood when everything’s gonna turn out great. But that’s not really what sisterhood is. Sisterhood is the imperfect, the ugly, the, I am not leaving until you’re OK. And that is the kind of sisterhood that I have been able to experience over the last eight years, is, you know, we’re in this together. And especially with our artisan partners. They are around the world. Our prosperity is linked to theirs now.
Jennie: Well, and it’s been such a motivating force, right? And I can say, because I’ve seen Jessica when nobody else is looking, I’ve seen Jessica cry and beat the table. And the thing you cry about the most is your concern for your sisters that are around the world. You wanna give as many jobs away as possible. In fact, we were talking about the book coming out and you were a little bit nervous. This was a few days ago. And I was like, "Go to the heart of it. Like, what is your biggest fear?" And she was like, "Honestly, I just want it to succeed so that the Jalia’s that I’m sisters with, succeed." And I say that to say, yes, like that is the core heart of Jess. And those of you that don’t know her, this is what she believes, this is what she hits the table for, is the good of others. And that her life will be good for others, and that her work would be good for others.
“I’ve seen Jessica when nobody else is looking, I’ve seen Jessica cry and beat the table. And the thing you cry about the most is your concern for your sisters that are around the world.” Jennie Allen
Vulnerability and Collaboration
And yet, I also tell you that because it’s a contagious mission, and I believe that it helps us get over ourselves, and all those fears that you talk about. That’s what I’ve seen in your life, Jess, is those have been so far pushed back, and now, they’re such bigger fears, right? Because now it’s not about, am I enough or is this enough. It’s more about, like, is this going to be enough for the people that I love that are held up by this? It’s such a different motivating force. And I know that pressure weighs on you a lot. I know that that’s a heavy burden to carry, and yet, you carry it with such grace and you carry it with such a sisterhood. And even in that, you’re looking at collaboration. Let’s talk more and dive deeper into that collaboration, because I do believe that has been your greatest joy in this, and it really has been, I think, the thing that has made Noonday so unique and so special, is this sisterhood.
Jessica: Yeah. And it’s a choice. And I have to say, the second section of my book, I think is my favorite. Am I allowed to have a favorite? I bawled when I read the audio version. I did. And I think it’s because yes, I’ve grown, yes, the fears are different now, but they’re still there. I still have a tendency to compare. I mean, I called you three weeks ago and I felt like a child. I felt like a seventh grader, and I was like, "Jennie, I am feeling jealous about somebody else’s success right now."
Jennie: That happened too. It’s a different call, yeah.
Jessica: Yeah. That was a different call.
Jennie: I wasn’t gonna throw you under the bus but way to do it to yourself.
Jessica: Yeah. So, there you go. There you go. And Jennie was like, "Jessica, so few people actually do this."
Jennie: Yes. I was so proud of you. It was so beautiful and tender and, I mean, we all feel it, right? We all battle that.
Jessica: We all do. We don’t want to admit it, though, and I think we don’t want to admit, you know, our weaknesses. And yet, that is why I love the second portion of my book, because it really is this idea that vulnerability, when met with empathy, leads to wholeness. It leads to transformation. And vulnerability is a choice. Vulnerability is courage. Vulnerability is moving forward towards a risk, a meaningful risk, without knowing what the outcome is. And that happens in conversations, that happens in, you know, "Hey, I really wanted to be invited to that thing you did this weekend and I’m feeling left out." And I think that work of vulnerability is actually what leads to the more courageous steps. Like, those internal things, those relational things, because we’re designed…we are designed for community, we’re designed for collaboration. We simply will not get far in life if we don’t go that route. And I think that being able to have relationships that are vulnerable are really important. And I think that eight years ago, like I said, books were my friends.
“In some ways, we choose loneliness, which to me is empowering. That can sound a little bit harsh, but if you choose something, it means you can un-choose it.” Jessica Honegger
I mean, I’m not gonna say I didn’t have friends, but I’m gonna tell you that, like, building our friendship, we have been extremely intentional about it. And, you know, I mean, I’ve had people that I’m like, "Hey, I wanna sew into you and us," and you know, it didn’t just happen. Like, loneliness doesn’t happen to us. Like, in some ways, we choose loneliness, which to me is empowering. That can sound a little bit harsh, but if you choose something, it means you can un-choose it. And so, you can un-choose loneliness by just starting with one person, like one vulnerable relationship. I love the story that I share in my book. When I would be driving home for lunch, because, you know, it’s like year two, still zero salary, still hustling hard, and at this point now, I’ve got, you know, three kids six and under, and Jack is at home with a babysitter who I’m basically, like… I actually had the business pay what they could for the babysitter. I was like, at least I have to be able to cover that, but still can afford to go out to lunch or stuff.
So, anyway, I’m driving home for my lunch and I would pass my neighbor friend who was friends with other mutual friends, and there they were on playdates, you know? Like, these were the days where, you know, you actually have to have playdates with another mom when your kids are little. And I just remember feeling so left out and just imagining, "Oh, they’re getting a mom with their little ones…" of course, you romanticize the thing, too. Like, they’re probably miserable, but whatever. And I’m just feeling that left out. And it happened enough to where I just thought, "I am believing a narrative that I’m alone and that they’re not and that I’m not included." And so, vulnerability, for me, in that moment was reaching out to them and saying, "Hey. Sometimes working during the day can feel a little lonely because a lot of my friends are not doing that. I’m wondering, would you guys be open to meeting maybe every other week at night? We can even use the Noonday offices and we can, you know, like, talk about what it means to belong, and read a book together. Whatever." And that was a huge vulnerability for me. And every single person there was like, "Yes. Yes. Yes. We want that."
Overcoming the Prisons of Fear
“This book, whether you’re gonna start a business or a dream or anything like that or not, this book is for you because of these issues that we all feel. Whatever your life is full of, loneliness, insecurity, fear, like, that is common to man.” Jennie Allen on Jessica Honegger’s Imperfect Courage
Jennie: Yes. You were so intentional. And I just go back to, like, OK, two weeks ago… So, this didn’t make it into the book, obviously. When you call me and you say that, “what were the barriers to that?” Because I think people need to hear that, Jess. They’ve got the barriers, they don’t pick up the phone and call the friend and say, "I’m jealous of this person." Again, I’m yelling at you because I’m like, "It’s so rare. It’s so dear and beautiful," and I wanted you to be so encouraged that you were choosing freedom, that you were choosing connection. But what are the barriers and why do you thing people don’t cross them? Because I do believe you are on to it. And before you answer that, let me just say this. This book, whether you’re gonna start a business or a dream or anything like that or not, this book is for you because of these issues that we all feel. Whatever your life is full of, loneliness, insecurity, fear, like, that is common to man. Like, we all struggle with these things. So, you know, do not wonder, like, is this for me, because I think every human needs to read this book, male and female. But Jess, yeah, what are the barriers?
Jessica: You know, for me, I think that everyone has their own barrier and it’s usually built around whatever false narrative that usually comes from something that happened in childhood, right? Like, whether you think people are gonna leave you or whether you think that, you know, you want to be the one that’s needed and you don’t wanna need other people. Like, whatever it might be, I think for me, I am… My friends laugh so hard at this, too. I say this in my acknowledgments. It’s this running joke that… And I think you were there when I said this, because we were on that little thing at the ranch, and I was like, "I’m just afraid that if something tragic were to happen, like I end up having a stroke, like Jennie’s friend, Sarah, that no one’s gonna show up for me." Like, I’m gonna be alone forever. And Jen was like, "I will beach curl your hair for you. I’ll bring in your beach curling iron. No, you will not be alone." You’re like, "I’m gonna bring you the statement earrings. Don’t you worry. Don’t you worry." But I think I still have that fear, that like, temporary friendships, or that like if I’m not sort of the strong one or the one that, you know… Yeah, I think I’m afraid that people are gonna be like, "Ew, loser," you know? Like, "She’s out. She needs to go sit at that other lunch table. Because I thought she was in the cool girl lunch table, but actually, she’s not."
Jennie: Well, I think the power of what you do when you ask for help, like you risk this. But even when you called to ask me about this, you know, and we’re figuring out when did you. And I know, probably for a second, you were like, "Gosh, I don’t want to be an inconvenience." But I’m sitting there in my heart thinking, "Oh my gosh, this is the biggest honor, that you would invite me into this moment that’s so sacred." And that’s how it always feels, Jess. It feels like an honor to be asked. And I think we’ve gotta remember that, that everybody’s just as lonely, you know? Like, we’re in great community in our loneliness.
Jessica: It’s true. I mean, I like to be asked. I was telling a friend that the other day. I was like, "When someone asks me, I’m like, oh my gosh, I’m needed." You know? Like, I love it.
Jennie: Yeah. I think everybody does. I think we all are craving that.
Jessica: It’s so strange. We all love to be asked, and yet we, well, I wouldn’t be loved to be asked to be like the PTA president or something. But you know what, I’m learning to say no.
Jennie: That’s right. That’s a different sermon, yeah.
Jessica: Right, right, right? That’s something else. But, you know, to come alongside, to celebrate someone else and be a part of what they’re doing, like, please, ask me all day long.
Going Now, Going Anyway
“I do feel like there is an evil force in the world at work that wants us to feel small, that wants us to feel worthless, that wants us to feel like we have to be fearless or have it all together before we can get up and go.” Jessica Honegger
Jennie: So true. So true. So, I wanna read a quote out of the book that I love. It says this, "Instead of waiting for fear to subside, I’ve made it my friend. Because when you’ve got a vision, you don’t have time to wait around for your fears to vanish before you start moving. Perhaps the hero’s journey is not for the few brave people after all, but an invitation to me, to us all, to rally our courage and go and do the thing we’re meant to do." And I wanna ask you this, in light of that quote, what is your hope for this book? What are you hoping it accomplishes for people?
Jessica: It’s so crazy because I give this metaphorical or this sort of vision, this analogy of being on the couch. And I had such a clear picture a couple of years ago. I was prepping for a leadership event for our Noonday ambassadors, our social entrepreneurs. And I had a very strong sense that women were either physically sitting on their couches and literally, like, sitting there scrolling and on Google and thinking, "I’m never gonna be able to know enough," or "I need to learn enough before I do something," or they were zoning out, you know? Numbing themselves on Netflix and whatever else, with their glass of wine in one hand and their social media on the other, and their Netflix binge in front of them. Or that they were metaphorically sitting on their couch inside themselves, that they thought like, "I’m just meant to be seated." And I do feel like there is an evil force in the world at work that wants us to feel small, that wants us to feel worthless, that wants us to feel like we have to be fearless or have it all together before we can get up and go.
And then, I just imagine this woman just standing up, and just like this simple act of standing up is revolutionary. Like, that alone can start this inner revolution. Like, "No, I’m not meant to be seated." And I saw her. I saw her standing up from the couch and looking back down and there is the big lump in the couch, and maybe it’s got some stains from your spilled coffee or whatever. But suddenly, she’s like, "That’s not where I belong." And then, the next step is she starts walking. And then she opens her front door and feels the air against her face and the light floods in. And her eyes begin to open and she sees: “there is an entire world out there that needs me.” That “if I stay on that couch, they’re missing out.” Like, someone is missing out. Someone is not who they are meant to be because I am just either numbing out or perfectionisting out, or whatever it might be. And I really want to take a woman or a man…we’ve had definitely a lot of men readers already…by the hand and just say, "Hey, stand up," and then, "Hey, let’s open the door," and "Hey, let’s go step out now into this world that we’re all invited into." And just drawing that circle of compassion around ourselves and then encircling the whole world, and being willing.
I think when we are awake to our own worth and sort of the part that we can play in the world, I think that we can engage in suffering so much easier. Because, you know, I think in suffering, you can either become super paralyzed, but usually, that’s perfectionistic thinking. It’s like, "Well, I can’t go start an organization, so I just can’t do anything," you know? Or, we numb out because we’re just like, "Oh, there’s so many problems in the world. Like, forget it. I can’t do anything." And I think all of those responses ultimately come from, you know, a sitting on the couch mentality. But I think when you stand up, you own your worth, you own that you’re not meant to be alone, you know? Because when you step out of your front door, guess what? There’s neighbors. Like, you got neighbors. There’s neighbors. There’s other people. And then, I get this vision of an entire block of women that are like all standing up and opening up their front doors and looking around and they’re like, "You too? Me too. Let’s do this." And I think that is the invitation that I am extending to others. And I truly believe that it’s transformative. It’s a transforming message. I’m extremely passionate about it, and truly excited for everyone to get to walk out this journey together.
“I think when we are awake to our own worth and sort of the part that we can play in the world, I think that we can engage in suffering so much easier.” Jessica Honegger
Jennie: Well, and it’s what’s happened. When you look around, it’s already happened, Jess. I mean, my sister is a Noonday ambassador, and it’s one of the reasons I believe in this book. It’s one of the reasons I believe in this company so much. Her life’s been changed. She is a homeschool mom of five kids on a dude ranch in Colorado called Lost Valley Ranch. And they run this guest ranch. And, you know, I just watched her come alive. Because yes, she loves what she gets to do, and a lot is required of her in her everyday life. And so, to imagine doing something else really wasn’t up her alley. But to get to be a part of a sisterhood and to get to be a part of a global sisterhood that was helping women around the world, that was up her alley. And that has brought so much purpose to everything she’s doing. And it ties in so beautifully.
But then, I’ve also seen the other side. I’ve gotten to go to Rwanda and I’ve gotten to see the business owners there that are shaking it up and changing the world. And, I mean, I expected to see women that were, you know, I don’t know. More like the women I’ve seen when we go to do charity work or non-profit work somewhere and storytelling, and it was totally different. And it made me such a believer, Jess, because what you have with these very, very strong, independent women that are putting their own kids in school, they’re paying for their own clothes, they’re doing everything themselves because they’ve had the chance to get to be now business leaders and business owners. You know, at the end of the day, this is changing lives all over the world. So, a lot of people off their couches already because of the…
“But then, I’ve also seen the other side. I’ve gotten to go to Rwanda and I’ve gotten to see the business owners there that are shaking it up and changing the world…And it made me such a believer, Jess.” Jennie Allen to Jessica Honegger
Jessica: Yes, yes, yes. And I know that, and yet I know that there’s so much more. And that’s what I think is so powerful about a book, in particular, is as many channels as we have now for communication, which there are such an insane amount, like, there’s just nothing like a book. And I just can’t wait for people to dog ear and highlight and step into their own journey, whatever that is, of getting up off the couch and walking out their front doors.
Jennie: Yeah. It’s gonna be awesome.
Jessica: This is really crazy, that you are interviewing me for my own podcast.
Jennie: I know. I love it. I love that you asked me. I was nervous, but I love that you asked me because it’s right.
Jessica: Isn’t that funny that you were nervous, though. Like, you’re the most interview-y person I know. I mean, my gosh. You totally are a question asker. Like, if people were to ask what Jennie Allen has done for them, it’s like you are so good at asking questions. So, I am thinking, "Wow, she was nervous about this." But that just shows like it’s not about being fearless. It’s about going scared and like we still get afraid to do the things, even that we’re created to do. Like, I think some people think, "Well, if I’m afraid, then it’s like I’m going in the wrong direction." But what if because you’re afraid, it means you’re actually going in the right direction, you know? You don’t wanna miss this because I believe it’s how we were built to live.
Jennie: Well, and I think that’s exactly right. I think it usually is the reason. Because the most important work we do is often on the other side of fear. And so, yes, I do believe that it’s not just what if, it’s like, no, that’s true. That’s true. The scary stuff’s the best stuff. It’s just the hardest stuff. So, we avoid it, and this is a call to not avoid it. And it’s a better life. I mean, gosh, think of all of the conversations we’ve had over the years, many years now. And how many times we have called each other crying, called each other hurting, called each other with difficult hills to climb in front of us? And would we even consider trading what we’ve been through for the last eight years? And the question is absolutely not. I know the answer for you is the same.
Jessica: Right. Absolutely not. Absolutely not.
Jennie: It’s the best. It’s the best. You don’t wanna miss this because I believe it’s how we were built to live. That we were built to live… actually are most fulfilled and happiest poured out. It just goes against something in us too, our selfishness, our pride, our fear.
Jessica: Our comfort.
Jennie: Yeah. Comfort.
Jessica: Well, thank you, Jennie. I don’t know how to wrap this up. Do I say any last words?
Jennie: Well, I’m gonna say this. I’m gonna say if you’ve not gotten this book, go get it right now. Get it today. You are going to love it. You’re gonna get this huge dose of one of my favorite people on earth. And that’s what it feels like, Jess. I just felt like I got to sit down with you, my dear friend, and hear more details that I had missed along the way, as we live this together. So, what a privilege how you’ve let us into your life and your story and your heart. And I know it’s gonna be contagious.
Jessica: Thank you. If you guys are listening to this on August 14th, we’ve got a launch party in Austin today. And then, Dallas on the 15th, and Nashville on the 16th, Atlanta on the 17th, and then Minneapolis and San Antonio, you all go look up the dates for those. But you could go to Jessica Honegger, you can go to my Instagram, go to my website, and I would absolutely love to see you there. And Jennie will be there in Dallas. We’re gonna have fun. We’ll do another little interview-type situation and just celebrate. So, thank you, Jennie, for interviewing me for my own podcast today.
Jennie: I loved it. Anytime, girl. I got you.
Jessica: See you soon.