Whether you’re a student, intern, or professional, learning how to stand out and sell yourself can be the difference between getting lost amongst the crowd and scoring the opportunities you really want.
Today I’m speaking with Jenny Westerkamp, dietitian for the Chicago Bulls and founder of All Access Dietetics – a company that offers internship application coaching, rd exam prep, and career development resources for students, interns, and RDs.
Jenny actually started this company when she was still a student and has had great success creating opportunities for herself in her career.
In this episode, Jenny shares her tips for standing out and offers key insights into learning how to sell yourself so you can nab that job, internship, volunteer opportunity, etc. that you’ve had your eye on.
Towards the end of the conversation, we also chat about Jenny’s experience founding and growing her company. Spoiler alert, it did NOT go perfectly from day 1, there were a lot of ups and downs and pivots to grow All Access Dietetics to what it is today.
As you listen to this episode, I encourage you to brainstorm ways you can take some of the lessons and apply them to your own life and career!
Looking for more tips and a community of like-minded peers? Join The Unconventional RD Facebook Community on Facebook.
Need help setting up your website? Join our FREE “How to Start a Website” tutorial.
More About Jenny
Jenny Westerkamp is the Founder of All Access Dietetics, a company dedicated to helping future dietitians through the process of becoming dietitians by offering application coaching, RD exam preparation, and career development resources.
Jenny started the company when she was a senior in college in 2008 and has since grown to a team of 4 employees and 12 coaches and tutors. In addition to running All Access Dietetics, she is the Team Nutritionist for the Chicago Bulls.
Connect With Jenny
- Website: allaccessdietetics.com
- Instagram: @allaccessdietetics
- Facebook: All Access Dietetics
- Twitter: @aadietetics
- LinkedIn: Jenny Westerkamp
- YouTube: All Access Internships
15% off anything at All Access Dietetics with code “UNCONVENTIONAL”
Erica Julson: Whether you're a student intern or professional learning how to stand out and sell yourself can be the difference between getting lost amongst the crowd and scoring the opportunities you really want. Today, I'm speaking with Jenny Westerkamp dietitian for the Chicago Bulls and founder of All Access Dietetics, a company that offers internship application coaching, RD exam prep, and career development resources for students, interns and RDS.
Jenny actually started this company when she was still a student herself and has had great success creating opportunities for herself throughout her career. In this episode, Jenny shares her tips for standing out and offers key insights into learning how to sell yourself. So you can NAB that job,
internship, volunteer opportunity, et cetera, that you've had your eye on. Towards the end of the conversation. We also chat about Jenny's experience founding and growing All Access Dietetics. Spoiler alert. It did not go perfectly from day one. There were a lot of ups and downs and pivots to grow the company to what it is today.
As you listen to this episode, I encourage you to brainstorm ways you can take some of the lessons and apply them to your own life and career. And as always, if you're listening and you haven't yet joined my free Facebook group, the unconventional RD community, definitely hop on over and check it out.
Leave your email when you request to join and I'll send you all sorts of helpful content to get your website and online business up and running and optimized. Let's get into it.
Hi, Jenny. Thank you so much for being here today. It's such an honor to have you on the podcast. I'm sure people listening are familiar with a lot of your work. But I always like to start the podcast episodes out, getting a little background on my guests. So would you be able to give us a brief overview of how you got started in the field of dietetics and what you're doing?
Jenny Westerkamp: Sure, thanks, Erica, for having me, I'm really excited to be here. I get so much out of your Facebook group and the podcast, so I'm excited to be a guest. But I started my journey in dietetics with an interest in Doritos. So in Doritos chips, because I love them as a child, I was in college, I knew I wanted to do science and I learned about food science and I thought, great.
I will just invent the next flavor of Doritos and that will be my career in life. So I ended up switching into food science and human nutrition and realizing human nutrition was really where my heart was and then learned about sports dietetics as well. So right when I was a student, I thought sports dietetics would be.
a part of my career, uh, but then in my senior year of college, when I was going through the process of applying to dietetic internships, and it was very competitive, I was going through that. I had a lot of support from my advisor, but felt like there needed to be more support. And so from there, uh, when I was a senior, I decided to start a company that helps students get through the process of applying to dye to the internships.
So now I'm in my internship at Massachusetts general hospital. I have this business that I just started, and then I decided to go into sports since of course my business wasn't making any money right away. So I went into sports career and now I sort of live two lives, two identities as an entrepreneur with All Access Dietetics since 2008, when I was a senior and a professional sports dietitian.
So I'm with the Chicago bulls right now, I've worked for two other pro teams. Um, but I'm in my fifth season with the Chicago bulls as their team dietitian.
Erica Julson: So inspirational on so many fronts. I don't think I've talked to any sports dietitians on this podcast yet. So people are probably like, whoa, that's so cool.
Jenny Westerkamp: I know, you know, it's a weird thing. I struggle with the, the two identities. It's funny, like Bulls is one day a week. For me, it's seasonal, a consultant position. All Access is really my, my main, um, career, but I tend to bring up Bulls more because people don't know a lot about dietetics in the general public, but yeah, I am definitely both of those things.
Erica Julson: Yeah. And I know probably most of the people listening are familiar with All Access Dietetics. I'm a huge admirer of what you've built with that company. And I think it's so inspirational that you freaking started it when you were going through basically that same process as well, which is a great lesson for people listening.
Uh, so I kind of would love to talk to you today of course, about your tips for learning how to stand out and sell yourself. Um, because I think that's a really important skill for everyone listening, whether they're still going through the internship process or they're in business. Very applicable. But, just like on a personal front as well, I'm very curious about your experience growing and scaling All Access Dietetics. So we'll probably touch on both of those things, uh, as we talk today, but, to start out, what do you really think it means to learn how to quote unquote, sell your.
Jenny Westerkamp: Well, this came up for me in a few different phases of my career.
So I learned to sell myself when I started my company as a student, and I was trying to sell the concept and the resource to dietetics educators that were very, uh, very much experienced in the field. They were like, why would we send our students to your website when we advise them on our own. So I had to create this pitch and the value and all these things that, that we did to get their buy-in.
and so I learned a lot there about how to communicate value, how to, uh, get, get, buy in and to be confident in what you have to offer. Uh, from there. Then I was figuring out how to make money with All Access Dietetics and realized quickly that application coaching would be the answer to that. And it was through teaching students how to write personal statements, how to prepare for interviews that I learned a lot about the techniques and the strategies and the communication styles that you can use when you're going through the application process, uh, and, and learning how to make the reader or the person on the other side confident in you, right?
So that whole idea of, of selling yourself, I think it's about how are you marketing yourself? How are you the PR firm for yourself and how do you control your story? That is a big component of it. And that's translated then into my career as well, where I've had to sell myself as a sports dietitian, how I've added value to teams, how I've been able to show impact and, and do that in a way that makes them want to work with me and to where I could get those dream jobs and professional sports.
So those, those are all the things, but to answer your question, selling yourself is really how do you know who you are and then market yourself so that the person becomes so confident in you and, and understands your value very easily.
Erica Julson: Great summary. So in terms of knowing who you are, and I feel like that's already a super loaded topic, uh, how do you know who you are? Is this like a learned skill or just comes naturally for some people?
Jenny Westerkamp: That's sort of like an existential question, right? To think about who am I as a person. And there's a lot of activities that I've, I've learned through the years, whether it's from people in psychology or career strategists, people outside of the field of dietetics that I've learned how to ask yourself the right questions to know who you are, and that can be what your values are.
What do you value in life? There's great tools out there. If you just search values finder or any kind of strengths finders, also a great one. And then being really honest with yourself about creating like a life filter. And a friend of mine taught me this about just dumping out everything you love about things that have happened in your life.
Things that you don't love about every aspect of, of your life, and really putting a filter to that and figuring out, well, what are my non-negotiables, what do I absolutely need to have in a job? Or what do I absolutely need to have in my life? And sticking to that and owning that and being really honest with yourself that that is what you want, even if it's not what someone else wants or, you know, you want different things that is a huge exercise to get down to the root of, of who you are and figure out your direction, like what you want out of your life.
I don't think people stop and ask themselves enough questions about who they are and what they really want. And that's the number one step that you need to go through when you sell yourself or stand out, you need to know who you are and what makes you, you. This comes up in the dietetic internship application.
When I see students that say, you know, I got into nutrition because I like to eat healthy. I have goals in dietetics, but I'm not sure what yet. And I don't really know what type of program I wanted to get into. Like, well, you're going to have a lot of trouble selling yourself with no foundation in who you are and what type of applicant you are and why you're different than some.
So it's that concept that then you can, of course magnify as you go through your career, what kind of dietitian are you, what types of patients or people do you want to serve? What problem are you solving for them? And how can you do that? Like, no one else that's, that's like the roots or the crux of selling
Erica Julson: yourself.
For sure. I resonate with that. Cause I was one of those people who, I career changed, and went back and did like a coordinated program. Got my master's and did the internship all together so never had to go through the application process, thankfully, it sounds a little intense, but yeah, I did all that and then popped up.
With my degree and passed the exam and was like, okay, I don't even know what I want to do. So I feel you, it's hard. I felt like, honestly, pinning that down and figuring out what I wanted to do and who I wanted to serve was the most challenging part. And then once I had the clarity, then it was like, okay, cool.
Now I can run with it, but took a long time for me, at least to find that.
Jenny Westerkamp: And it can take a long time. I think, as a student, if I'm talking to a student, I'm encouraging them to do a lot of research, having a lot of conversations with dietitians. Some people don't even know the possibilities in dietetics.
You know, they have a very limited view on what that is. So spending the time researching, asking other people, questions, preparing for that so that you can make a more educated, you know, answer for yourself. That's, that's a big part in and spending the time to do that. I remember when I was a student I emailed 50 or 60.
dietitians and ask them about what was their favorite part of their career or their least favorite part of their career, and just got answers to figure out what it was that resonated with me and what didn't. So that's, that's a huge part of it too, to do that research and, and do the work to figure that.
Erica Julson: Yeah, definitely being proactive. I freaking like emailed Joy Bauer. Like when she was on the Today Show I was like, I was like 19 or something like, Hey, you know,
Jenny Westerkamp: I did as well.
And that's, and then just one other point is even in your career, there's exploration. You're not going to figure it out on day one. I give, I tell students that are just passing the RD exam, give yourself five years to explore. You can still be really intentional and you can still have that life filter and the vision and values lined up.
But watch them change as you explore that and put yourself in front of new things, things you thought you liked and didn't, and then things you didn't think you would like. And you did. That's all really great. I think in five years is pretty typical for people to figure that out.
Erica Julson: Yeah, that's about right for me.
And then I know you really value storytelling. And you've mentioned owning your story is an important part of selling yourself. So how does that all relate? Like how do you figure out your story and what do you mean by storytelling?
Jenny Westerkamp: Sure. I think there's tactics or frameworks that you can follow to do that.
So putting yourself through almost like a workbook of filling in the blank. Who, what were you in the past? What are you doing in the presence? What do you want to do in the future? Uh, and have that all line up. So again, this came up with application coaching, where we talk about a theme for their personal statement.
Or you could think about this in the business world is like your elevator pitch, where you're saying, here's what I've done. Here's what I'm currently doing. And here's what I want you to do in the future and how that, whoever you're talking to lines up with that future, and how, you know, you see their future, your futures together because, uh, you want to work with them or you want their business, whatever it is.
So, that's the basic framework that I, I think helps people just figure that out and figure out their story that way.
Erica Julson: And that it's not something necessarily that comes easy to everyone. Like I know for me when I'm working on my quote unquote elevator pitch, like I actually just sit down and try to write it.
Like it's not just going to pop out of my mouth one day, perfectly formed. So yeah, taking the time to reflect, like coming back to the whole reflection thing, making sure that you are carving out the time to think about these things. So you're not just always like running off the fly or caught off guard when people ask you.
Jenny Westerkamp: Right.
You're putting, you're creating a filter for yourself, so that any decision, any opportunity that comes in front of you, any person that you think you want to meet, you're guided by that filter and that intention that you want, you know, to go off of so that, you know, you're headed in the right direction.
I did this with pro sports, where I knew I only wanted to work for professional sports teams and any opportunity that came up, I asked myself, is this going to get me closer to that goal? And be a part of my story for the next person that gets me closer to them.
Erica Julson: Yeah. And it's okay to say no. Another hard lesson for people in the beginning, often.
Jenny Westerkamp: And that's the tricky part between balancing exploring new things and saying no. And protecting your boundaries or your time or mental health, whatever that is.
Erica Julson: Yeah. I think it always comes back to like, where are you trying to go? And I think people get a little stuck. They don't know where they're trying to go.
And then it's hard to make those decisions when you have no filter to pass the opportunities.
Jenny Westerkamp: Right. And you have to know what you want to get, what you want. Exactly.
Erica Julson: So I've also heard you stress the importance of being a quote unquote Go-Giver. And what do you mean by that?
Jenny Westerkamp: The idea of Go-Giver was inspired by a book that I came across called the Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John Mann.
And it's this idea? I think they were salesmen. Uh, and it was this idea that they, if they gave more value, that that would lead to getting something in return. Payment or success, whatever that is. And I come across this so much with students and then it can translate to the business world as well. But with students emailing, asking for experience or asking to be my intern or whatever it is, and they will frame their requests or their email around what they can get from me, meaning, uh, I'm going to give them my time, my knowledge all for free.
Right? Of course, I like to pay it forward. I couldn't be a bigger supporter of future dietitians, but they're not framing it in a way that makes me want to respond. If they would frame it in a way of how, like, what are they going to give me? What can they do to help my business, to make my life easier?
What skills have they already learned or taught themselves, or gathered throughout previous experiences, that's going to help them succeed in, in this internship with me, I think that's a really important mind shift for people because it's not about going and getting something, being a go getter necessarily in that sense, but giving value and then being able to show that impact, show those results, because you've done that because you've given the value that then leads to that.
That's a really important thing to, to embrace when you're trying to network or make connections or start to build relationships with people that you want to get business from, you have to give value. So simply in like an online business with All Access Dietetics, we're giving free webinars, we're giving a free toolkits or handouts, whatever it is.
And we assume that by giving that value, good will come back to us. But we're leading with giving at that point. I think that's the main mindset, mindset shift you have to have.
Erica Julson: Thinking back to some of the volunteer opportunities that I did as a student, like, oh, I totally accidentally did that. Like reaching out.
I reached out to some private practice dietitians and you're right. Like, it wasn't like, Hey, you know, what do you have for me? It was like, I pitched myself almost, and it was like, Hey, like I have a food blog I saw, like, maybe I could help you with some developing recipes for your website, or I have a research background.
Can I help you with any writing projects? That type of stuff. And I think that probably is the significant factor on why I actually got some volunteer opportunities,
Jenny Westerkamp: Definitely because I can tell you I get about a hundred, uh, intern requests or whatever a year. And I know the ones that I'm going to choose to work with or are not.
The other interesting thing is my story I tell students all the time about being a Go-Giver is when I reached out to the Chicago Blackhawks dietitian, when I was a student. And I pitched myself on how I could help with her website office administration, because I had an office type job in high school.
And, uh, that I would watch her triplets. She had three kids triplets. I would walk her dog. I would do anything. So I was just loading this email with value. Like how could she possibly say no to this? And, and she didn't, and then it ended up being this, this long-term relationship where then she hired me.
And that was in my first job as a dietitian. And I worked with her for four years. So, you know, and then I've seen this happen to me where then I've hired people. Who've pitched me successfully, especially for being admissions coaches for my company. If they know how to pitch themselves and sell themselves to me, I know they're going to be great coaches.
Right? So that, it's a huge thing. And not a lot of people do it. A very small percentage of people do it. For how much I try to tell everyone to do it. It's still a very small percentage.
Erica Julson: This actually came up in one of the interviews I was doing earlier today. Like I have a Facebook group with 11,000 people in it at this point.
And like, not that many people reach out, you know, way less than you would maybe think having that many people quote unquote know you or your brand.
Jenny Westerkamp: Right. I try to tell students to go on your Facebook group and pitch themselves if they have any, you know, social media experience or help with a private practice dietitian like you did.
Uh, and yeah, they, I think people are afraid or, you know, afraid to put themselves out there or just don't think that they have those skills. When in fact they, they
Erica Julson: Yeah. And I mean the worst thing, they're either not going to respond or they'll say maybe later or something like, it's not like they're going to be like, why are you contacting me?
Jenny Westerkamp: Are they just won't respond? And then you move on and yeah, there's never, you're never going to be looked at as like unprofessional by pitching yourself. Yeah. Yeah.
Erica Julson: And then I think in the business space, I think the common hang up that I hear people say about this whole, go giver a concept. They're like, oh, but you know, if I, if I give everything away, like why are people gonna buy for me?
What are your thoughts on that?
Jenny Westerkamp: Well, there's, there is some strategy there, uh, to that. I think it, it sort of depended on the situation or what you're trying to do. For example, I give 15 minute free advising coaching calls to clients, you know, to potential clients. But even if they're not potential clients, I'm still getting on the call with them.
And if you can find a way to get something out of that, then I think it's still valuable to you. But if you honestly can't find value in it, then don't do it. Right. So for example, I love talking to potential clients, even if they never end up being them, because I learned their problems. I learned the words they're using.
I can think of new business ideas or new products while they're telling me about their story or what they're struggling with. So to me, I get a lot of value out of it. And I'm intentional during those calls, I'm asking questions to make sure I get value out of it. Or I say, do you have a student club contact that you can put me in touch with?
You know, like I'm trying to get something out of it. And so if you can do that with something that you're doing for quote. That's great. But if you can't, then you should honor your time. But that would be like free talks. I mean, I don't, I don't believe in free talks, neces. I don't, because I think you want, you want the right people to show up there and that's a lot of time and energy if it's especially in person when I was doing those.
Oh man. Yeah. That's, that's tough. Most of the time, I would say don't do that for free.
Erica Julson: Yeah. Lots of learning by trying and seeing what works and what doesn't work. Yeah. But I agree with the point about being clear on your goals, because that's another thing I think when people are listening to business advice online, sometimes they pull from people with different business models that maybe aren't the same as theirs.
And then they get a little, a little, um, hazy in what they're trying to do.
Jenny Westerkamp: Yes. That's a good point.
Erica Julson: Um, so I, I'm sure you've worked with a ton of
people over these years, and maybe there's some common threads that you've seen, like what really makes a person kind of stand out?
Jenny Westerkamp: Yes. There are many skills or qualities of these people that I think are important that kind of rise to the top.
First of all, you know, they know their story, they're not a vanilla ice cream cone. They have sprinkles, they have flavors, whatever it is. and there's probably three things. So they, they research and prepare themselves better than the competition. Because you know, in that sense of selling yourself, make being able to know so much about your potential customer client, then they can make that personal connection.
They can show that. They are there for them, like and ready to, to sell themselves to them. The second one would be they embrace everything that is unique about them. They aren't trying to fit in. They're really highlighting and amplifying their story, their uniqueness, uh, their unique skills, experiences, goals, interests that they have or problems that they're trying to solve for specific people.
And then the third way they, I think can stand out is with investing in themselves and teaching themselves new skills. So that's, and whether that's in that order, kind of all happening at the same time. I mean, all those things are, where I've seen people successfully stand out and be able to, to get what they want in their career.
Whatever that is.
Erica Julson: And if people are feel like they're struggling with getting quote unquote, what they want, how might they figure out what their roadblock is?
Jenny Westerkamp: Sometimes it can be mindset and thinking about their inner narrative, what, what beliefs do they have? What is holding them back from going and taking action?
Being really honest with themselves and what action they actually are taking. I think some people think I'm trying, I'm trying, then I would say, are you, what are you really doing? Like write that down, reflect on that and see, you know, and brainstorm other things that you could be doing. Other actions, strategies, people, resources, skills that you could be adding that would help you get there faster.
So I think people are quick to put up, not everyone of course, but like people are quick to put up, uh, that they, they think that they're not doing well, but they're not being solution-oriented about it. And that, that could be a big part of it. And that again could be because of their mindset and their lack of belief in themselves.
Erica Julson: was juicy..
Jenny Westerkamp: I know, uh, hashtag therapy is great. The first book that opened me up to that many years ago was you are a bad-ass and that's a very good intro to mindset and inner narrative. And then you can obviously get deeper from there and probably more effective from there. That's definitely a surface level book, but, uh, but yeah, there's, there's something to the psychology of selling yourself and, and believing in yourself and getting those results.
Erica Julson: That's a book that always comes up as one to read, but I haven't read it yet. So. Pop it up to the top of the list.
Jenny Westerkamp: Yeah. You can try see what you think. I mean, it, it resonates with some people, but it's, it helped me at the time that I read it. So you have to be ready for it.,
Erica Julson: Well, I would love to kind of shift gears a little bit now and talk more because I think this does tie into the mindset stuff, how you grew All Access Dietetics from, you know, something that you just started as a student to now you have a team of four employees, 12 coaches and tutors, and you're still doing other stuff in the sports nutrition realm as well.
So it's not like you're, you don't have a lot on your plate already. So I imagine there is a lot of mindset component to being able to expand and grow outside of just a solopreneur. So I'd love to dive into that.
Of course. So let's take it back all the way to the beginning of. First, I would like to know, how did you get the sort of confidence even as a student to launch this whole concept?
Jenny Westerkamp: I knew I was going to be a business owner for a very long time prior. You know, it was in my blood, my both my parents were entrepreneurs. And I started selling scrunchies when I was 10 years old. Loved it, very pivotal moment in my, my teenage career where I was like, I can do this. This is fun. I love selling.
So I think that set the stage. And then from there, I, I didn't know how that would all play out specifically in dietetics or anything. But when it first came up, I had been on a chat room from the academy. They had a student chatroom. This is Peck in 2008, so no Facebook or anything, Facebook groups or anything, but we, I met this other student, Katie Proctor, who Had this idea to do a catalog of dietetic internships, because it was hard to use the academies page of internship programs.
And we thought we could add some tech to it to make it really easy for people to shop around with internships. That was the initial problem that we were solving. And from there, we decided that summer after my senior year, like right before my senior year ended that we were going to meet in Chicago and we were going to build this database and website, get a website designer, get an $8,000 loan from my grandma and make it happen.
We brought on a web designer as a, like a partner in the company, so we didn't have to pay him. And we made this website from, from scratch pretty much and, uh, and, and launched it in about six months after that. So that was really how it all started. But obviously so much has happened since then.
That was 13 years ago.
Erica Julson: Did you do anything to validate that there was a need outside of just you and Katie now noticing that there was a need?
Well, there was a lot of discussion on the student forum that showed us that, you know, people would be interested in this and we floated it out there to people about, you know, here's an idea we're thinking of, would you guys want to use it?
So that was, that was pretty validated. And there wasn't anything like it before. So people were ready for any additional help or resources for, for future dietitians. But it was pretty quick because we, before the website launch, we did a. At that time then I guess there was a Facebook page or Facebook.
Yeah, I think it was a Facebook page and we had a thousand people sign up in the first week on the Facebook page. That's awesome. We knew, yeah, we knew it was going to be well well used and it, but we didn't have a revenue model or anything at the time we just knew here's the value. We know this is going to turn into something.
We thought ads at the time. But we learned quickly that the volume would, would never be enough for ads to make that work, but that was, we just knew we wanted to start and make something that was really helpful.
And then when did you start thinking about monetizing in a more serious manner?
Jenny Westerkamp: This was, I was in my internship and very busy.
So I was just trying to grow it, tell people about it, really a lot of marketing the first year. So we didn't think about a revenue or anything, but then in the second year, we, we realized that people wanted help with their personal statements and resumes. So we told them here's programs, here's resources, here's tips, and we had blog posts and newsletter and everything, but now we can help you with coaching and with actually getting into these programs.
And right at that same time, the numbers of acceptance, like the percentage of people accepted, started to drop significantly in those next few years. And that created a much bigger need for the competitive edge that we could provide with like application coaching.
Erica Julson: And did you have any experience with coaching or you were just like, I just did this, so I'm just going to share what I did.
Jenny Westerkamp: I, yeah. That's believing in yourself. Right? I Googled a lot of things. I taught myself what makes a great resume. I taught myself about the star method that you use in interviews. I mean, there's so many things that are Google-able from career centers around the country and grammar websites. And I, yeah, I learned, I taught myself how to put together great resumes.
I did a lot of work during my application process to do that. I was trying to go above and beyond and create a great personal statement and all that. So I had already done some of it on my own, same with Katie who was the co-founder at the time. And, and then it was just a lot of Googling and researching so that no one else had to do that.
And we just put that in, into the coaching.
Erica Julson: Yeah. I connected with Katie online a while ago, but it's been a while since we've connected. But yeah, she she's since gone on right. To do like more influencer marketing?
Jenny Westerkamp: Yes. She owns her own practice that represent either works with brands or represents influencers for influencer marketing.
And yet we're still the best of friends. She's my best RD friend. And she decided when she graduated her internship, she was a year behind me. She decided to go full-time into PR a PR career. And before we even really launched, it was like half a season of doing coaching. And so she decided to leave.
We hadn't made any money yet either. So it was okay. Like, it's all good. I'm going to keep going with it. And it was a good decision all around. Awesome.
Erica Julson: Yeah. And a good lesson. Cause I also feel like sometimes people are scared. They're like, oh, I don't want to start something with people.
Cause it's forever. But you know, that's not true either.
Jenny Westerkamp: Yeah. I was really, I was really lucky. Yeah. It all worked out great and she's super happy. I'm super happy. We're all good. And then our, the website developer, he stayed on a few more years, but then he was able, he was super nice. He he's a very successful like computer science person now.
And he was like, I don't even do anything with this anymore. Jenny just let me just pay me like a thousand dollars and I'll leave. So it was, it all worked out, but it couldn't have been done without them, you know, in those early years.
Erica Julson: Okay. So at this stage you started offering coaching.
Is it just you? Or…
Jenny Westerkamp: ,right. So in the first year that we started coaching application coaching, it was just me and I had about 150 paid clients in that first year. And I was like, wow, this is a lot. I knew very quickly that it needed to be, I needed to have a team of coaches. I needed to scale that. And I hired a assistant to help with the coordinating of the clients that would come in.
So if you can imagine like a front desk or receptionist type thing, where they get every client set up and help schedule the calls and just get everything really much more streamlined. And that was right away. As a teaser for later on was my prices were too low for that. So, uh, but it was still really good to get that volume.
And then I got more practice. I got better. I got started creating more resources that would end up being a course later on and the training for future coaches. So it was all a great thing, very similar to if you're in a private practice and you're trying to build your team, when you have that high volume of clients, you're learning so much from each of them, that's just going to help you scale it in the future.
So that was, that was for like one or two years. And then, but I had the team in the second year of a few coaches and then continue to grow that team to now I had at one point up to like 25 coaches because I was doing all a la carte coaching. So we had 500, 600 clients every year. And then I realized that I needed to reduce the volume of clients, increase the price.
And then I, my team became smaller from there. That was a little bit of a transition to where I was learning. Like this isn't going to be sustainable. If I keep having this high volume of clients paying these coaches, this much of a margin, it was at that point when I was like, I don't know what I'm doing.
And that's when I got a business coach to help with that. But yeah, that's kind of how it grew and grew really quick. And again, there wasn't any competition with it.
Erica Julson: Okay. So your first hire technically was an assistant. And how did you find that person?
Jenny Westerkamp: She pitched herself to me. Uh, we met at FNCE.
She was a student and she was like, I want to help you. I want to be your intern, whatever you need, I've done this, this and this. I would love to, to work with you. And she did a great job selling herself. And so then I, I hired her, and it was awesome. She stayed on for, I think like three years. And just did this part-time while she was doing her career in pediatric dietetics, but it was, it was great just to get some of the operational work off of my plate and kind of split it up a little bit.
So it was between me and her and a few coaches. We were running it for a few years.
Erica Julson: How did you know, like, did you just instinctually know like, oh, this is the time, or was it like a financial thing where you could see that it would pay off if you hired someone or how did you make that leap?
Jenny Westerkamp: It was definitely a need.
So I was running out of time in the day because I was running, I was trying to do my sports nutrition career and trying to have a life outside of that, which I didn't do a great job of, for many, much of my twenties. It was very work-focused, but you know, that's just what happened. And I was all for getting help.
I didn't feel like I couldn't give it up or that I couldn't delegate. I knew that I wanted to have a scalable business. I knew I wanted it to be outside of just myself. So there was no barrier there. It was just. Um, the needs and then the time to even, that's why I probably just hired her because I was like, I don't even have time to go through a hiring process.
I just need to take this person let's go.
Erica Julson: And then I think another thing that people get tripped up on, they feel like their business is almost like their baby and like, oh, I'm the only one who can, you know, do X, Y, Z service for people. And they can't imagine having someone else like, provide that service under their brand name.
So what are your tips on how you kind of, got yourself out of, I don't know if you're ever in that line of thinking in the first place, but if people listening are in that line of thinking you have any tips?
Jenny Westerkamp: Sure. I think you have to be really data driven with your decisions and data doesn't lie.
You know, like if you do financial models and you break down the profit that you're trying to achieve the amount of time that you have, what's your capacity for your clients. What's your capacity. If you pay coaches and you run those different models and you, you look at that. And if, if you are motivated to make more money, maybe you're not, maybe you're happy with what you're doing, but either more time or more money, you just run the models and look at the data and that will just be right in your face and you it'll be very clear.
The other thing is just tapping into your vision, again, your vision, your values, life filter. Like, do you really want to be doing all those clients all day long? And, and for some, maybe they're very happy with that, but a lot are, would probably say no. And then from there they have a deeper motivation, that gives them that push to make the decision.
Erica Julson: Yeah. I like the data suggestion, because. It's true that you're so emotionally attached oftentimes to whatever you're building, that it can get a little cloudy, I think, or you get some data even, but you make it mean something about yourself instead of staying objective.
Jenny Westerkamp: Right? My, my business coach gave me really good advice.
I started working with him right before I was about to give up on All Access Dietetics actually, and thought maybe I would just go all in on sports dietetics and grow that part of my career. But I had a really bad financial model. I was paying coaches too much and my prices were too low. And the whole model and the, you know, the amount of volume that we could potentially get from this very niche audience, you know, it just wasn't going to work.
I wasn't going to get a full-time salary out of the way that this was going, which is really what I had wanted. So anyways, he, in some of our very early on meetings, it wasn't so much about, oh, you have to hand over delegate. It was more about like increasing your prices or doing things completely differently than how you were doing them before, like breaking those habits or those thoughts, thoughts, or patterns that you were so entrenched in and realizing that it was part of who you were, it's your business, is your identity, a part of your identity.
And how do you make objective decisions that make that easier for you to do? And that's what he really walked me through a lot of different activities. Again, a lot of it was just models, numbers, finances, you know, where do you want to be in five years kind of thing. And what do you enjoy doing about your business, uh, or in your business?
So he helped me go through that and break those patterns.
Erica Julson: I love that and to speak to the whole being afraid that no one else can do it like you can do it. I'm pretty sure everyone that I've spoken to who has eventually outsourced, like, oh my gosh, that was so off the mark. Like that is so far from the truth.
In fact, there's probably people who can do it better than you, and you can hire those people.
Jenny Westerkamp: So the minute you learn something from someone that you hired, then you're going to feel great. It just, you just have to hire them first to then be able to hear what they're teaching you and then you're going to be just fine.
It's a great feeling.
Erica Julson: yeah, I'm in that weird limbo right now where I'm like, I know I'm coming up on needing to hire a team, but I, I basically like fell backwards into my business and sounds kind of similar to how you found yourself, where you're like, maybe you don't have the best model in terms of scaling and growing and having consistent revenue
um, so I've been tweaking that over the last year. And my, and then I feel like once I had an actual clear business, then I'm ready to confidently feel like I have the stable income to hire, because that was one of my biggest struggles was like the roller coaster of income. Because I was only doing it as a side hustle.
It wasn't like a full-time thing. Like, wait, okay. If I'm going to transition and make this my whole thing, I need to get actually strategic about what I'm doing.
Jenny Westerkamp: Yes. There's an all-in moment that you have to hit and, and you'll never really feel ready for it, but you have to, you have to have that mindset that you're all in.
Like, this is your number one focus, and this is what you're trying to do and that'll help fuel you.
Erica Julson: So I imagine since you've been at this for so long, that there's different stages where you kind of. Maybe pulled yourself out of working in the business and you're kind of like the bigger picture CEO role.
What did that look like? Like what, what are you doing now, like as the business owner versus when you were the coach?
Jenny Westerkamp: Right. So I coached for, I think it was 2010 to about 2017. And I, that was right before I started working with the business coach and I was so burnt out on, on clients, but I was taking our higher end clients that were like our $2,500 price point.
And to me at the time, it felt really overwhelming to have to train someone or to think like, could I deliver on a 2,500 coaching package with someone else delivering it? There was so much of this Jenny factor. So I, I did kind of hit that point where. But I knew that I wanted to get out of it and I just didn't know how, and I didn't know how the money or the finances would work or how that should be structured for moving forward.
So then that's where I got the help to do it. But since 2017, I maybe saw one client each year since then, and then no clients in the last year. Um, and that's where I was able to bring on a full-time director of operations and client happiness, kind of like customer service type person. And then now, uh, uh, director of marketing that I have an, uh, Instagram slash engagement assistant, uh, that helps with the social media and sort of the grassroots marketing, and then someone that helps run our brand partnerships.
And I feel like I'm missing someone else. I think that's it. And then me, yeah, there's the four and, uh, myself. And so my role now is really about the growth, the vision, the roadmap that we're all taking. It's a lot of coaching. So I feel like I'm a coach to my team now, to where I'm like, how can I help them ask the right questions, problem solve on their own.
I feel like I'm a business coach giving, you know, to their business, their, their world of marketing, their world of sales, their worldof brand partnerships, whatever it is. And then I also still do those free coaching calls, which my business coach tells me I have to get rid of at some point, but I do spend about, uh, 10 to 15 hours a week on free calls with students all around the country.
Uh, and I do the sales calls for that sales slash free calls for that. So that's, that's where my time is spent now. Eventually I'll take the sales calls off my plate and really probably be training or coaching another member of the team that would be like our sales person. So it's really about now coaching my people that like the team.
Erica Julson: And did you kind of step back from each of those roles in layers? Or were you like I'm hiring all four people right now?
Jenny Westerkamp: No, it happened over a well more. I always had an assistant and so I had Meredith and then I had Aubrey and then I had Amanda and then I had Susan who then I expanded to a full-time role.
So I always had that help, like the operational help, kind of like a VA slash you know, with the marketing and all these different projects that would come up. But then. After that was set operationally. Then I had more bandwidth to get the marketing and the marketing plan really strategized. And the person then filled that role and helped solidify and execute that plan.
So that happened in the last two years, got some additional marketing help, and now we're getting even more marketing help and we'll eventually have that sales help as well.
Erica Julson: Awesome. That's really helpful to see the progression. And also I think reassuring for people to see the time period that it happened over, because I'm sure there are certain people, sometimes people will probably look at your business and be like, think, oh my God.
If I wanted to start something like this from square one, like it has to have all these crazy moving parts and it, it doesn't start like that. You build it over time,
Jenny Westerkamp: over a decade until I felt like it was a real business. And I, I tried to be really transparent about that. Or every podcast interview I'm like, listen, I didn't know what I was doing.
Like, I, I made mistakes and I was, uh, doing things I made like huge mistakes around not looking at profit first. Right. I would just hope I would just look in my bank account or my PayPal account at the time and be like, is there money in there? Like, are we doing okay? Uh, and had no, no idea about financial models, you know, the basics, I didn't know about KPIs and tracking marketing initiatives and figuring out if they even worked.
I was changing things every year. Kind of like fiddling with things. And seeing if it would change, but I have no way of knowing if it even worked or not. My margins were wrong, my pricing was wrong. My sales funnels are non-existent, you know, there was just so many things. So it didn't, it wasn't until I really, like I said, went all in on it and I was like, I have to figure this out or else I'm going to close it down.
And then once I did, it was like magic and the last four years have been so fun and everything that I wish it had always been. Right. But it takes time to get to that. And I don't think I would trade in the messy first seven or eight years, at all, because I really learned so much, you know, about myself and about the business and the audience.
Erica Julson: Well, to sort of wrap it up, I have a couple, mindset, bigger picture related questions. So, what were some of the biggest mindset shifts do you think you had to make as your company has grown over the years?
Jenny Westerkamp: Well, I'm trying to think. I sometimes have to mill personally, not put my business before other parts of my life.
Right. So I have really good balance. I think I was in a mindset of like the hustle and grind and show up and work consistently, which I don't want to say that's wrong to do, because I do think that there's some component of that, that you need when you're first starting, you have to have that sort of scrappy mindset and kind of want to work hard on your business.
But now, now I have a team and I'm trying to shift this mind a mindset of like, I don't have to work harder to necessarily to get more or to get bigger success. I know that I can work more strategically now and I don't have to overwork, like those days are long gone. So, uh, that's something that I've had to re.
Retrain and kind of assess myself could be my Enneagram three or my Leo vibes. I don't know, but it's just, just reminders to slow it down and you don't have to work harder, like working harder and longer. Doesn't equal more success.
Erica Julson: Hmm. That's a good one. I fall into that trap. Definitely.
Jenny Westerkamp: Yes. And I have a such a wonderful team now that it's, it's me saying, like, I don't believe in this team if I think I have to work harder.
Right. So you don't ever want to be in that mindset when you're trying to lead them. You want to go all in on your team and, and know that everything's going to work out because they're working hard to.
Erica Julson: Just because you're working hard doesn't mean you're working on the right things or being strategic, like you mentioned earlier. So yeah. Taking that time to really figure out, like, where am I going? What am I really doing? Like is posting in my Facebook group all day. Really the thing?
Jenny Westerkamp: Right, right. And it's so true.
And that's where reflecting, it goes back to even asking yourself the right questions about what am I doing? Is it effective? Is it part of my even life filter, business filter? Is it going to help me reach my vision? You have to be brutally honest with yourself about that. And if you can't getting the help to have someone to be brutally honest to you, like my business coach has been for me.
And you know, maybe eventually I won't need him because I'll be brutally honest with myself eventually. But, uh, but yeah, that's what it takes to, um, to keep moving forward and in a strategic way.
Erica Julson: And the final thoughts on, is there anything that you wish you knew when you were starting out in first growing your business that, you've learned maybe along the way?
Jenny Westerkamp: The biggest lesson I've learned in the last few years has just been around data and really getting into the data of your business and allowing that to be what drives your decisions?
Data being like did this webinar convert , is this price point, the right price points, um, that whatever your team, like how much you're paying or compensating your team, like, is that right for your model? Everything, it should be really. Data driven and I think, and then getting your team to buy into that too, is really important as well.
So that it's not just a gut decision. Like you're not just using your gut, you can incorporate that, but it has to be really backed up by data. Just is the most like unsexy part of being a business owner and why I probably avoided it for so long, but that's huge. And that's something, I think people don't spend enough time on, early on and I didn't either.
Erica Julson: So do you have like a certain frequency that you track different metrics?
Jenny Westerkamp: We do monthly, uh, monthly KPIs on all of our marketing. And, you learn as you keep going, like what metrics to track, for example, like if we're, Instagram's our main way that we're trying to get people to know about us, like their brand awareness.
So we're tracking like how many followers through specific posts, like, which means worked well, right? Like we're just using all the Instagram analytics and, and trying to make decisions for strategy for the following month. And then maybe somethings we don't make a decision on until quarterly or one year of tracking the data.
But the sooner you track the data, the sooner you can start to see trends and understand your, and learn more about your business through that.
Erica Julson: And just for people listening, I'm not a hundred percent sure that everyone knows what KPI stands for. Could you just define that really fast?
Jenny Westerkamp: Key performance indicators.
So things that, that you're trying to attract that will show a performance. Like you can tie it to performance or a result that you want. So we know we want to have 300 people sign up for our newsletter every month so that we know 33 of them will get on a call with me and we know whatever a half or a third will, 11 will convert to clients.
That's a made up numbers, but then we can track, are we hitting those month over month? And it can also track, like how many people do we really need to equal one coaching client and then make goals based off of that.
Erica Julson: Yup. Yup. I just did this in my business. I have a nice little tracker with yeah. Like how many people watched, how many people, bought like, blah, blah, blah.
And then yeah, you totally work backwards. And at some point then you're like, okay, well, based on these consistent conversion rates, like this is how many people I need to add to my audience every month to hit them.
Jenny Westerkamp: And then you can say, do we need to do a giveaway? Do we need to do another webinar? Are we not at our goal of what we need for brand awareness?
And you can problem solve so much easier and focus your attention wherever those numbers need more help, because it would be really hard. Well, for us, we have many different products and we have kind of two arms with both the students and the RD exam prep now. So we kind of are running two different businesses and then like the brands and partnerships, sponsorship stuff is a third business.
So we have KPIs for all of those. And then we know where to spend our attention each month or each week.
Erica Julson: Yep. It feels so like legit,
Jenny Westerkamp: It does, I was not always like this. This is probably two or three years in the making. But it, it takes a long time because I needed a full year of tracking before I could even do anything with that data.
I think some people might not realize that, that you, you actually, there's nothing you can do. You just have to track it first and then you start to compare it year over year and start to see different trends from there and then can make decisions on that.
Erica Julson: Well, thank you for all of your insights in this interview today.
I know people are gonna love it and be really inspired. I'm sure by, um, not only your tips on standing on selling yourself, but your whole story and how you grew your business. I asked people what they wanted to hear more of on the podcast. And that was one of the things like, more stories, like more people sharing, you know, their journeys because people find it really inspiring.
So thank you for being so open.
Jenny Westerkamp: You're welcome, Erica. Yeah, I'm happy to, to geek out about it. I need to spend more time talking to more entrepreneurs about, about it. It's really fun to just talk shop about all business and entrepreneurial life.
Erica Julson: And I know you have some resources available through all access dietetics, you know, depending on whether people are looking for help with their internship applications or passing the RD exam, or even if they are a dietitian and they're looking for opportunities.
So what do you have available and where can people go to find that?
Jenny Westerkamp: Sure. So all access dietetics.com we'll have, uh, the three different arms. So the application coaching and help, we have a free toolkit in there for people applying, RD exam prep. We have a free tool kit in there for, uh, for people that want to pass their RD exam.
And then in our career support section, we have, one course that I think could be really good for, for anyone listening. It's called confident and credentialed. And I partnered with, she's a friend of mine, but she's, uh, an amazing confidence coach. And so she created this course that teaches six habits on how to.
Become more confident. So that's a lot of the skills around inner narrative and life filter and being assertive and knowing your values. So that's a great course. I think anyone would benefit from, and I certainly have personally, but, um, yeah, I would say just go to the website and then follow us on Instagram as well.
That's our main social media that we're on. Although we do need to get on tiktok at some point, the gen Z audience of mine is clamoring for it. So we'll probably be on tiktok in the next year.
Erica Julson: Awesome. And then also if people want to sign up for anything , they can use the code unconventional and a special discount, 15% off for listeners of this podcast.
So thank you for offering that. That's really generous.
Jenny Westerkamp: Thank you. Yes. Anything on their toolkits coaching, RD, exam prep, and, um, yeah, and spread the word, please. If you're a dietitian and, you know, future dietitians, they might not know.
Erica Julson: Great. Well, thanks again for being here and hopefully a good chunk of people come check you out and follow you on all the platforms.
Jenny Westerkamp: Awesome. Thanks Erica, for having me.