Prioritizing yourself is integral to living your best life. Jessica Dennehy shares this important message in her new book Selfish is a Superpower, and she is a great example of the successes that come from doing so. As a keynote speaker, business consultant, and author, Jessica calls for a new definition of selfish. In our interview below, she explains how being selfish can help you achieve a higher level of happiness. We talk about her inspirational journey from Wall Street to entrepreneur, challenges women generally have with putting themselves first, resilience, and more.
Disclosure: This sponsored interview features an uplifting author and keynote speaker with a refreshing take on entrepreneurship and achieving a higher purpose.
Interview with Jessica Dennehy
What first struck me about Jessica was her vibrant spirit and commitment to helping others think differently about themselves. Putting oneself first is important, and she says it loudly, widely, and passionately. Her book title says it all: Selfish is A Superpower. Let’s get to the interview!
What inspired you to go from Wall Street to entrepreneurship? Was there a specific moment when you decided it was time?
Wall Street was my dream job for so long, and for many years it was really rewarding. Suddenly in year eight, I realized I was getting bored. I wasn’t challenged enough, and the only promotions available were for positions I found even less interesting.
When I started a family, I became increasingly frustrated that most of my time was spent at a job that didn’t make me happy. If I was going to leave my daughter for 10 hours a day, it better be for something I loved.
My then-husband and I had just started a business a week before she was born. I saw how much he loved it, and I wanted to feel that same way about my own career.
I remember the night before my maternity leave ended. I cradled her in my arms, crying. I knew then that my love for Wall Street was gone. I had a bigger purpose on this planet – to be a mom! But that didn’t mean I could just leave my natural ambition and drive behind entirely.
That was the moment that I knew one day I would have to go all in on our business when the time was right, financially.
Interview with Jessica Dennehy cont’d.
What is the higher purpose that you want to achieve as an entrepreneur?
I wish to inspire people to use Selfish as a superpower and create the life of their dreams. I spent so many years believing that I had to come last. That I had to choose: I’d either be an amazing mom, a successful businesswoman, or I’d have a lot of fun traveling and adventuring.
I believed this was a choice I had to make, and I couldn’t have been more wrong. Our life is our choice. We can create something incredible if we can get past the fear of failure and the belief engrained inside of us that we must put ourselves last.
As a keynote speaker, what can we expect to hear from you if we’re in the audience?
You can expect to hear the truth, wrapped in an explosion of glitter. I’m direct, animated, and passionate about becoming more selfish because I saw the way it transformed my life from Blah to Blissful.
When I step on stage, my goal is for the audience to come on the emotional journey with me as I transformed from this boring, lost, “people pleaser” to a vibrant, confident powerhouse raising two girls all on my own.
It wasn’t always pretty. There was a steep learning curve. There were tears, triumphs, and terror, but I got scrappy, and now I want to show audiences how to strive for the life they think is impossible.
Awesome! I love your take on selfishness. Please take me back to when you realized “selfish” needs a new definition.
In December 2020, I was sitting in my hallway with a suitcase packed about to take a trip to a place I’d never been, to meet people I didn’t know for reasons I couldn’t explain. It was a defining moment for me because I’d be leaving my kids for the first time since my divorce to do something that felt right, even though it was selfish.
Over the next 18 months, I kept making one selfish decision after the next. Each step, I inched closer to reconnecting with who I was before I played the role of mom, business owner, attorney, spouse, girlfriend, etc. I saw my life completely elevate.
As I took more chances on myself, I saw my kids gain the courage to take their own chances. As I took time to myself each and every day, I saw my businesses accelerate both financially and with staff retention. As I became happier, I saw the energy of every single aspect of my life transform into something much more cohesive, purposeful, and with higher vibrationally.
And it hit me: Selfish is a Superpower. It isn’t something to be ashamed of or to steer away from. By getting selfish, I was not only able to elevate myself personally, my finances, and my businesses, but I also became a better parent to two children who became happier and happier as they saw me fulfill my own destiny.
When I look back on how those 18 months forever changed the trajectory of my life, I knew I had to tell everyone. All the moms who are scared to take time away from their kids, or fear that wanting alone time from their spouse is a marriage killer, or think that by putting themselves last, believe they are somehow helping their kids.
To all those people: NO! We don’t want to teach our kids to put themselves last. We want to show them that in order to be there for the people who you love the most, you have to love yourself first.
And that’s when I knew I had to write a book about it, speak about it, and scream it from the rooftops so that everyone else can start to live a happier life the same way I started to.
Jessica Dennehy, what do you hope readers will get from reading Selfish is a Superpower?
I want to give the average person the confidence to know that they can create a life that feels meaningful on all levels without feeling guilty that their kids and family are not #1 at all times. I think it is an important message for people, especially working moms, to hear.
As a superpower, what can being selfish enable us to do?
Anything. That is the beauty of it.
Getting selfish enables you to be the amazing parent, spouse, friend, child, and person you are preventing yourself from becoming. You think being selfless is the answer, but how can you light other people up with enthusiasm if you aren’t lighting yourself up first?
The more you concentrate on your own happiness, the more energy and enthusiasm you can bring to other people. The more you connect to yourself as a person instead of as a label (mom, wife, friend), the more you can actually strengthen the way you connect with the people you love the most. Your relationships start to flourish because you are bringing more to the table – at home and in your career.
Let’s scrap the labels! I’m curious, did anything surprising happen while writing this book? If so, what?
I believed in myself. Crazy right?
Someone close to me suggested I write down this notion and tell my story. I sat for six weeks straight, writing from the heart.
No deleting. No editing. No thinking. Just feeling.
When I came up for air, I re-read the intro, and I knew in my heart I had done it. I had created a book that will become a household name and have an impact on people (especially women) everywhere.
For the first time, I truly believed in myself without question. Without a doubt in my mind that I’d somehow pull this off. And its all because, for the first time ever, I wrote from my heart with reckless abandon.
Do women generally find it more difficult to be selfish, in your experience?
I’m a woman, so, of course, my answer is skewed. But it’s a resounding yes.
I think societally, we are accepting of men being out of the home often to provide financially for the family. Women being out of the home more is relatively new in the scheme of human existence, and we are still getting used to this dynamic as a society. And maybe our genetic predisposition hasn’t gotten the memo yet, haha.
As a solo mom, I feel immense pressure to fill both the role of financial provider and emotional support. When I traveled, I felt guilty. When I worked late, I felt guilty. When I looked at my phone to read work messages on a day school was closed, I felt guilty.
Until… I realized that a harmony can be made if I prioritize differently. It isn’t about the amount of time I spend at work or home; it’s the quality of time.
When the quality and intention of my time was set, and I stuck to my intention, nothing suffered. My kids were happy, I felt happy, and my work was stellar.
It’s up to us as women to set the tone and create that dynamic between work and home. It takes some trial and error, but it is possible. And what I found is when I was honest and open about this with my children, it fortified our relationship. They understood that my dreams and intentions with work benefited not just me but the whole family, so they respected my need to work.
They saw me working hard and started to develop their own work ethics based off what they saw me do. And then, when I spent time with them, they saw how much effort and presence I brought to the table, and it made them feel loved and cared for.
Continuing this topic, would you say the family or the self is the number one priority?
Self. There is no family without me. I must prioritize my well-being in order to be the best I can be for the family.
I believe to truly have a family that flourishes, the parents must be happy first and foremost. A happy parent can be so much more impactful on the family than a parent who is constantly a martyr.
If I wake my children up each day as a refreshed, vibrant version of me, then I can provide for them in a more meaningful way, help them have fun, be confident, and navigate all the emotion and stress of their lives as well.
Interview with Jessica Dennehy cont’d.
How do we maintain empathy while still putting ourselves first?
We create healthy relationships with other people that involve some give-and-take. Using selfish as a superpower does not mean we are selfish in all ways, at all times.
All healthy relationships need all parties to take care of each other. We must still take care of those we love, sometimes as a priority over ourselves. All relationships require this at times.
The key is to recognize which relationships in our lives are a constant drain without much benefit and also recognize which relationships are more balanced and return the same amazing energy we give. For the latter, those are the relationships to prioritize and have empathy towards. If those individuals pour into you, you need to have empathy toward them and prioritize them as well.
Well said. How do we know when it is time to be selfish?
In my opinion, we should make a little time every day to be selfish. If we wait until we “need it,” then we have likely gone far too long, and it will take more time to reset.
Every day, I make a little time to be selfish and do something that lights me up. That looks different every day. Some days, I need to be alone at the beach journaling, meditating, or doing yoga for hours on end.
Sometimes, I just need a quick walk in the crisp air. Some days what lights me up is taking my girls out of school early and going on an adventure.
Selfish can look different every day. But you have to make sure you make time for you, regardless.
Speaking of time, where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Over the next five years, I intend on writing more books that will hit the NYT Best Seller list. I will be on television often, not just being interviewed but also interviewing A-list celebrities and athletes about their pursuit of greatness.
I will still be traveling the world often with my two beautiful daughters, but I’ll also have a husband and his kids by my side. And I’ll be attending plenty of fabulous red carpet events and even the Super Bowl. By then, some of my childhood idols will be my collaborators.
Thank you for being here, Jessica! Keep shining, doing, being, and amplifying your beautiful message.
Connect further with Jessica Dennehy online
Jessica Dennehy is available for speaking engagements, business consultations, and podcast and media appearances. Learn more about her books, upcoming events, and listen to her podcast at her self-titled website.
Pre-order Selfish is a Superpower by Jessica Dennehy now
Where can you get the book that will release in September? Make sure you get yours before it sells out! Go to Barnes & Noble, bookshop.com, Walmart, and other popular retailers to pre-order yours!
Top photo credit: 7 Seconds Media