Nationally recognized motivational speaker, mental health advocate, and author, Jordan Corcoran, founder of Listen, Lucy, is a Mercyhurst College graduate with a story to share. During her freshman year, she was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder. After going through a difficult struggle with coming to terms and learning to cope, Jordan created an outlet where people can openly and candidly share their own personal challenges and struggles – an outlet where she can also use her lived experiences to end the stigma surrounding mental health.
Now, Jordan’s time is spent touring around the country speaking to college, high school, and middle school students about her story and the importance of acceptance – of others and of yourself. She is the author of Listen Lucy Volume 1 and Write It Out, and Little Lucy and the Little Butterflies, has been featured on Forbes, Today.com, and UpWorthy for her mental health advocacy, and was a keynote speaker at NAMI and other mental health organizations. Her mission is simple: she wants to create a less judgmental and more accepting world.
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Table of Contents
Thank you for joining us today. Please introduce yourself to our readers. They want to know you, some of the background story to bring some context to your interview.
Jordan Corcoran: I am so excited to be a part of this interview series– thank you so much for having me! I started Listen, Lucy — my mental health organization– over 8 years ago. I travel around the country speaking to students of all ages, and corporations, de-stigmatizing mental illness by sharing my lived experiences with the struggle. My organization was inspired by my own battle with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder. I was diagnosed my freshman year of college but was struggling so deeply for two years prior to my diagnosis. The stigma surrounding this topic kept me from seeking the help that was being offered to me. It plagued my recovery and let my illness snowball into something that was completely unmanageable. I was having horrible panic attacks daily. My grades were dropping. I wasn’t sleeping. I was losing weight and was taken to and from the hospital often. I was even taken off my campus on a stretcher. I had oxygen masks on my face, and I learned what true terror really was. I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.
I was lucky enough to claw my way out of the darkness and while my recovery, healing is not linear, I share my past and livestream my present to help show what mental illness truly looks like. I want people to know it absolutely can get better if you work for it and that you can live a full, beautiful life in spite of and because of your mental illness. I started Listen, Lucy with the hopes to help others avoid the same mistakes I made and to normalize seeking help and I am incredibly proud of what I have accomplished.
You are a successful entrepreneur, so we’d like your view point, do you believe entrepreneurs are born or made? Explain.
Jordan Corcoran: Oh wow. I love this question. I hope you don’t roll your eyes at my answer, but I think in my case, it is both. For as long back as I can remember, I knew I wanted to make a positive impact in the world. I am a realist with a large tint of optimism. I have extreme confidence in myself, professionally, and I just always knew I was destined to make a difference. The idea has been pumping through my veins since I was a young kid. I have always been focused, driven, and tenacious.
I always knew in my heart that I would work for myself someday. That being said, the ambition I was born with let me take this giant leap of faith but my experiences made me into the entrepreneur I am today. I changed and evolved. I have failed and misstepped. I have learned so much every single day over the past 8+ years that has gotten me into the position I am in today. Those experiences are the most valuable experiences of my career.
If you were asked to describe yourself as an entrepreneur in a few words, what would you say?
Jordan Corcoran: Tenacious, driven, focused, informal and creative.
Tell us about what your company does and how did it change over the years?
Jordan Corcoran: I started my organization over 8 years ago and it was inspired by my own battle with mental illness. Listen, Lucy started as an anonymous online outlet where people could go and share their stories without fear or judgment.
Thank you for all that. Now for the main focus of this interview. With close to 11.000 new businesses registered daily in the US, what must an entrepreneur assume when starting a business?
Jordan Corcoran: It is never going to go how you think it is going to go and as frustrating as that is, it helps you grow as a person and a professional. You will need to adapt and evolve your business time and time again– be open to it.
Did you make any wrong assumptions before starting a business that you ended up paying dearly for?
Jordan Corcoran: I could fill up this entire interview with stories of mistakes I made, assumptions I believed, and lessons I learned in those first couple of years of running my own business. I think I quit my full-time job too early because I assumed the speaking portion of my career was going to take off instantly. That didn’t happen. I have built my momentum up over the past 8 years to where I am now. I have clawed my way to every victory, every ounce of success that I have experienced. Nothing happened quickly. Nothing happened overnight. This assumption that I was going to be an overnight success harmed me emotionally, mentally, and financially.
If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what advice would you give yourself and why? Explain
Jordan Corcoran: Take a giant deep breath. This is going to take longer than a minute to catch on and that doesn’t mean your idea isn’t important. Give it time. Take in each and every accomplishment– celebrate your wins and try not to breeze past them without taking notice while trying to climb the next mountain in front of you. Soak in each moment. This isn’t for the faint of heart, but you are tough as hell. It will all be worth it.
What is the worst advice you received regarding running a business and what lesson would you like others to learn from your experience?
Jordan Corcoran: I trusted someone early on to help me with the biggest project I had taken on up until that point. It was a dream of mine to accomplish this goal, and I trusted someone without doing my own research and taking my time. I didn’t check references. I trusted their word without question. I look back at the project and am disappointed with the outcome. I would have done so many things differently. I wish I would have trusted my gut and realized that good things take time. Do not jump at the first opportunity because it sounds so exciting.
Now, when I take on a new project or have a new goal I want to accomplish, I take my time. I do it right. I discuss it with everyone in my network that could possibly help me or give me insight. I leave no stone unturned so that when I do launch something new, I have full confidence that this is done correctly with the best chance of success.
In your opinion, how has COVID-19 changed what entrepreneurs should assume before starting a business? What hasn’t changed?
Jordan Corcoran: Everything has changed since COVID-19. It is really important to understand and know that everything can be taken from you without a moment’s notice. I think it has also changed the way in which we work, how we communicate with each other, and the expectations we set for ourselves and our employees. You have to be flexible and be able to adjust. You have to think about how your company can withstand even a pandemic. It is heavy, and it is a challenge, but it is really interesting and rewarding as you make it through the fog.
What is a common myth about entrepreneurship that aspiring entrepreneurs and would-be business owners believe in? What advice would you give them?
Jordan Corcoran: It is glamorous and exciting every minute of the day. That being your own boss means life is easy and work is flexible and a blast. Working for yourself is so incredibly difficult. It is not for the faint of heart. It is difficult to ever “turn it off” or take a day off or a vacation. I have worked so incredibly hard for every dollar I have made. I have wanted to give up so many times– too many to count.
Don’t let my experience and my bluntness make you fear this lifestyle. Information is power. When you know this ahead of time, you can adjust your plan and prepare your spirit to take this on. It may be a difficult career, but it is also the most rewarding thing I have ever done professionally.
What traits, qualities, and assumptions do you believe are most important to have before starting a business?
Jordan Corcoran: I can only speak on what has worked for me personally. I believe my tenacity, open-minded way of thinking, creativity, ability to adapt in a crisis, thirst for knowledge, and vulnerability are the traits that make me successful as a public speaker, mental health advocate, and business owner.
How can aspiring leaders prepare themselves for the future challenges of entrepreneurship? Are there any books, websites, or even movies to learn from?
Jordan Corcoran: I really love this question. I think the best thing you can do is reach out to other entrepreneurs. I think having real conversations with people who have done it is the best way to learn and to be inspired. BUT– do not expect these people to discuss their experiences for free even though most will be happy to talk to you in their free time. I always offer to pay a consulting fee, buy them lunch/dinner or get coffee at the very least. Make sure you let these people know that their experiences and knowledge are valuable to you.
You have shared quite a bit of your wisdom and our readers thank you for your generosity but would also love to know: If you could choose any job other than being an entrepreneur, what would it be?
Jordan Corcoran: I would become a therapist. I still think about doing that from time to time. For now, being a mental health advocate and doing PR for other mental health and purpose-driven organizations is scratching that itch for me–but you never know, I may just go after it someday.
Thank you so much for your time, I believe I speak for all of our readers when I say that this has been incredibly insightful. We do have one more question: If you could add anyone to Mount Rushmore, but not a politician, who would it be; why?
Jordan Corcoran: Brene Brown. Her words and her work really have connected to my soul, and I think so much of what she has done, the efforts she has made, and her incredible accomplishments have positively impacted the world and challenged so many to change the way they think for the better. She is amazing. I hope to make as much of an impact as she has with my career.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Jordan Corcoran for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Jordan Corcoran or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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