Hey there, I’m Jessica! I’m an experience producer, storyteller, and West Wing enthusiast. I’ve always loved writing, and with the same gusto with which I approached writing, I once loathed public speaking. Fresh out of high school, I signed up for a public speaking conference, but only after telling myself they wouldn’t actually make me get up in front of people and speak…right? I was wrong (but you already knew that).

I fell in love with public speaking, not so much for its own sake but because of how I saw it being used as a head fake to teach other “soft skills.” For several years, I worked with students K-12, coaching them in what they thought was public speaking—but was really a crash course in leadership. Watching the most reluctant student come alive when they realized that their voice mattered gave me life.

I traveled over 13k miles in 10 weeks in a van full of high school grads—twice—hosting leadership and communication conferences from coast to coast. Along the way, I created dozens of conference experiences for hundreds of people. Some were really great. Some were really…not great. I learned a lot from both.

This opportunity opened my eyes to the power of meaningful experiences. From vacations, coffee shops, movie theaters, concerts, online shopping, and work, I’ve experienced the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’m sure you have, too—the moments you tell everyone about, because it was just so good, and the experiences that result in scathing Yelp reviews.

I believe the cultures we shape, the experiences we create, determine the stories we live. And since most of us will spend a third of our lives at work—more than any other single place or activity—the cultures and experiences in the workplace matter a great deal.

It’s been said that culture eats strategy for breakfast. The best strategies conceived by the brightest minds to find and retain customers are only as good as the internal culture of a business. Anything can work in the short term, but over the long haul, only a system that creates a positive culture for its employees will produce results. As someone who spent three years working in one of the most stressful jobs that exists (police dispatcher, which generally ranks right under air traffic controller as far as stress goes), I know the importance of a workplace culture that values its employees.

When I’m not thinking about and analyzing my day-to-day experiences, trying to tease out what worked and what didn’t, I enjoy drinking coffee, spending time with friends, reading (currently, East of Eden and Atomic Habits), writing (I’m drafting a series of historical fiction novels), watching movies, and rewatching The West Wing.

As President Bartlet would say, “What’s next?”