Meet Jen McFarland, MPA, RPCV
I love the power of projects, intentionality, and aligned action.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a lawyer, driving a VW bug, living in Boston.
None of those things panned out, exactly. Although I came closer than my friends who wanted to be astronauts and actors.
My husband is an attorney. I’ve owned a VW rabbit. Twice. I live in Portland, OR — which looks enough like Boston they filmed the TV show Leverage here.
Our intentions become our realities.
In college, I decided to join the Peace Corps. When one of my closest college friends went to Bolivia and told me tales of faraway lands I knew I had to go.
Good thing my husband loves to travel and seek adventure as much as me. We went together.
It was during the two years living and working as a teacher in Kazakhstan that I realized how much I love projects.
I became attuned to the fact that projects drive everything we do. It’s about listening and learning and creating solutions to the problems nagging us day after day.
In Kazakhstan, I noticed that the school kids loved games, artwork, and creating elaborate talent shows. I wrote and received a grant. I used the money to create an English festival that included art, games, and a talent show. It was fun. And chaotic.
I solved a problem no one knew they had. I made learning English fun.
Peace Corps was a life-changing experience. When you have all of your creature comforts stripped away you realize what’s important.
I realized life boils down to love, service, equity, and joy. Those are my core values.
When I returned home I didn’t know what I wanted to do next. My husband suggested pursuing projects.
I briefly led a nonprofit. I quickly realized I yearned for something bigger.
I wanted to make a larger impact.
I decided to go after a Master of Public Administration with an emphasis on leadership and project management. I had my sights set on living abroad again.
When the economy crashed a few months before graduation, I was grateful I’d stuck around at my fellowship gig at the City of Portland.
That 10-week gig turned into a 10-year career.
Refining My Approach to Projects ... Big Projects
I led countless projects, including a few of the most influential financial initiatives at the City of Portland:
- Wrote and negotiated the policies for events on Portland streets — generating $500,000 in additional annual revenues for the City
- Streamlined business processes and implemented a system affecting all Portland hotels — collecting $55 million annually
- Led, negotiated and launched a program affecting 50,000+ businesses and over 300,000 Portland residents — collecting $1 - $4 million each year
Each of these projects had a common denominator — they were failed initiatives, DOA.
I was a one-woman wrecking crew cleaning up messes and getting things done.
Why was I able to resurrect these projects? Because I understand the power of collaboration, research, setting an intention and taking targeted action.
Oh, and how to plan without doing tasks more than once.
I am a professional problem-solver with the unique ability to look at issues from the 10,000-foot level and then zero-in on the tiniest of details, which I’ve found often holds the keys that determine success or failure.
My boss told me she’d never met anyone like me. Someone with the uncanny ability to consistently see the world 15 steps ahead of everyone else.
It was a great compliment. Yet, I didn't feel flattered or overjoyed.
After 10 years of solving large-scale business problems, I felt unfulfilled.
I was an executive, making nearly 6-figures in the public sector. On the outside, everything looked great.
I yearned for something different.
When I left the City I had Tina Turner’s Proud Mary on blast. For weeks.
Starting Women Conquer Business
During those first few weeks as an entrepreneur, I created my first draft of the leadership model I teach businesses today.
I also discovered that businesses, no matter how big or small, experience the similar obstacles as they move from idea to goals to finishing a project.
I realized new and emerging businesses could grow and thrive with a few simple tweaks in mindset and how they approach leadership and projects.
As a first-time entrepreneur, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. I’ll be the first to admit I was a little cocky.
At times, I had more uncertainty than dollars.
Entrepreneurship felt like the Wild West.
Some days I felt slathered in snake oil — overpriced coaches promising the moon with no credentials or experience to back it up. I learned my share of lessons the hard way. I bought into the snake oil and shiny objects a few times.
Through it all, my mission remained the same: providing small business owners with the best long-term growth advice based on the client’s individual needs.
Recently, a client told me, "One of the things I value about you is that you research things extensively. This saves me the time and effort of doing the same. Your integrity won't let people go with terrible services."
My clients get me.
Today, my life is on the road to endless possibilities.
I’m a frequent Small Business Development Center speaker, and I co-developed a digital marketing program for Prosper Portland's inclusive business network, helping local new and emerging businesses led by women and people of color.
I don’t believe in cookie-cutter solutions; I deliver best practices, and solutions based on active listening, leadership, intentionality, and (gasp!) a plan — you know, the things I’ve built my career around.
I’ve handled some of the largest, most sensitive projects in Portland. I’ve helped hundreds of businesses and thousands of podcast listeners.
All that’s left is one question:
Are you ready to start?
Jen is a REAL wizard and super-shero!
Jen is a REAL wizard and super-shero! With a heart of gold and ears like radar she listened with intent to my needs and concerns. Jen then crafted a system that works for me and my current capabilities with a mindset for business expansion. She found and consolidated the right tools and programs that make my life easier and more effective. From Facebook to finances and everything between, Jen knows her shit. Get the right person the first time around, f’n hire her!