Ever wonder what it’s like to walk a day in someone else’s shoes (or spend a day in someone else’s job, as the case may be)? Us too! In our “Women at work” series, we’re talking to some of the most accomplished women we know about how they got to where they are in their careers, what advice they’d give their younger selves, and any tips & tricks they’ve picked up along the way.
Name: Jennifer Rudolph Walsh
Job: Literary Agent
College major: English Literature
What does your typical work day look like?
I wake up at 5:00 AM when the house is quiet, make myself a giant cup of black coffee and read for two hours. This is my favorite, most productive time of day — my magic hours. Then I get my son to school, workout, get to the office by 9:30 where I work at my desk all day without stopping. I generally work through lunch, so I can get home at a reasonable hour if I don’t have an evening reading or business dinner.
How did you go from employee to co-owner of the Writers Shop?
My then boss and beloved mentor Virginia Barber approached me about buying the agency because her husband wanted to retire and move down south. I was 30 years old, pregnant with my second child with a husband who was a full-time student. Not ideal timing to say the least. With Virginia’s help, we made it work and I bought what was then The Virginia Barber Literary Agency and changed its name to The Writers Shop.
What ultimately made you decide to sell the Writers Shop to The William Morris Agency?
I loved being an independent agent but I could see the consolidation of publishers happening at the same time that distribution channels were exploding. I didn’t know what the future held, but I did know I could protect and advocate for my authors better from Noah’s Ark than from my own speedboat. It was the wisest decision I ever made.
What’s the best part about working with authors?
I love the honor of being a front line reader. It creates an honesty and intimacy in relationships that is rare and sacred to me. Most of my authors have been with me for decades, and while I don’t see most of them very often, I know their hearts and minds so well.
Where did the idea for the Together tour come from?
I’ve spent the last two decades representing some of the world’s greatest authors and thought leaders, collaborating on worldwide events including Oprah Winfrey’s The Life You Want tour and Arianna Huffington’s Thrive conference. I found my passion for the incredible energy and magic that comes with bringing women together around purpose, love, connection, and getting into action. After spending ten weeks traveling with Oprah Winfrey’s tour, I needed a new dream because it had surpassed all of mine.
What do you expect women to get out of the together tour?
Together’s mission is to help women find their purpose and connect to a community that supports them as they go over the bridge of bravery into action. All the while, creating a safe space where women can share their stories and ultimately build communities across generations and backgrounds.
What can the Together attendees expect to experience at the event?
We brought together a group of speakers who come from many different backgrounds, faiths, orientations, beliefs, generations and experiences so that everyone at our events can see themselves in the women on stage. This is not your typical live event experience. We intentionally decided to have all the speakers sit together on the stage throughout the event to have an open-hearted conversation with the audience about real, vulnerable truths. The evening is filled with joy, laughter and tears and our mission through all of it is to help women connect with their purpose and each other. At the start of each event, we all take a purpose test created by our non-for-profit partner Life Reimagined to help each woman develop a personal manifesto. We then hear magical stories from the speakers. Everything that happens at the event is intended to bring women together to support, inspire, and elevate one another to make change in themselves and in the world. After the event, we have a together app that will keep them staying and growing together over time.
What advice would you give your 25-year old self about navigating your own career?
Pay attention to the things that make time fly and that give you energy instead of draining you. Those are the bread crumbs leading to your purpose. Listen to them, follow where they lead. Instead of try harder, I say try easier. The universe is working to make your dreams come true if you trust the direction of where your purpose path is lighting up for you.
Who have been your biggest role models in your career?
A role model, to me, is someone who lives their purpose, who trusts the knowing inside their soul, and who always shares generously with their love, support and time. I find these role models everywhere I turn. Our Together events are filled with them —a collective heartbeat of warrior women.
P.S.: A few more quick questions whose answers we needed to know!
Best book you’ve read this year?
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
What book are you currently reading?
Marrow by Elizabeth Lesser
If you could magically learn any new skill, what would it be?
I dream of having a beautiful singing voice.
What did you want to be when you grew up as a child?
A war photo Journalist (don’t ask!).
Team kindle or team paperback?