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How to Leverage Layoffs into Launching Your Own Business Featuring Holly Jean

Holly Jean Jackson is a Revenue and Performance Consultant, Speaker, Podcast Host, Author, and Founder of Business Builder Throwdown. Her career encompasses a range of fields including technology, communications, organizational change, public relations, and content strategy.

With over 12 years of experience, she has been instrumental in helping business leaders rejuvenate their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Holly Jean has spearheaded a Local to Global Policy Initiative, influencing the impact of future leaders on communities. A fun fact about her: Holly Jean has performed as the first chair clarinetist in Carnegie Hall and holds a black belt in karate.

Her Peak Performance Blueprint offers a comprehensive and pragmatic approach to success, recognizing that monumental business achievements require a life that is equally or more successful.

Business owners engage her services to master the art and science of genuine success. Many lack direction, take insufficient action, and see lackluster results. Holly Jean steps in to help define and design a business roadmap that ensures impactful visibility, intentional profitability, and unfailing sustainability.

In today’s episode of Smashing the Plateau, you’ll learn about Holly Jean’s journey from multiple layoffs in corporate America to becoming a successful entrepreneur and finding the balance and respect that she desired in her professional life.

Holly Jean and I discuss:

  • The pattern of layoffs and health challenges in her corporate career [00:42]
  • Acknowledging a need for appreciation and a push towards entrepreneurship [01:00]
  • The dehumanization of layoffs in large companies [01:44]
  • Transitioning to a consultancy role and how it differs from employment [05:03]
  • Establishing a more respectful and balanced consultant-client relationship [06:14]
  • Holly Jean’s process of finding her consulting niche [08:15]
  • The impact of COVID on her business strategy [10:46]
  • How to strategically pivot your business for growth [11:37]
  • The importance of niching down your target market [12:00]
  • Leveraging personal achievements and passions to build your business [13:52]
  • The significance of internal validation over external comparison [14:12]
  • Tactical advice for transitioning from corporate to entrepreneurship [16:32]
  • The critical role of community and support in building a successful business [21:07]

Learn more about Holly Jean at:

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How to Foster a Coaching Career from Corporate Communications Roots Featuring Alan Heymann

Alan Heymann excels at coaching fellow introverts, helping them discover their superpowers in an extroverted world. He has coached leaders from 32 countries across four continents. His diverse clientele includes individuals from Fortune 50 corporations, nonprofit organizations, public utilities, and various levels of government—federal, county, and municipal.

Alan is the author of “Don’t Just Have the Soup: 52 Analogies for Leadership, Coaching, and Life.” His extensive experience spans over two decades in public, government, and nonprofit communications, where he has led teams of sizes ranging from two to over 100 people. Motivated by his own career transformation, which was facilitated by an executive coach, Alan established Peaceful Direction in April 2019.

In today’s episode of Smashing the Plateau, you will learn about Alan’s journey from a communications expert to a respected executive coach and successful business owner. 

Alan and I discuss:

  • His career transformation inspired by executive coaching [00:44]
  • Navigating complexities in his most challenging role [02:29]
  • The unforeseen benefits of coaching for career development [03:00]
  • Serving a diverse range of clients across the economy [03:40]
  • Adapting coaching methodologies to suit client needs [04:28]
  • Transitioning from corporate employment to entrepreneurship [05:39]
  • The practicalities and psychology of running your own business [07:00]
  • The importance of cash flow and financial management [09:16]
  • Alan’s approach to growing his business and client base [10:06]
  • Balancing personal preferences with market demand [11:01]
  • The business development aspect of coaching [13:31]
  • Building a coaching business and the challenges faced [14:26]
  • Utilizing community and networks for business growth [23:22]

Learn more about Alan at

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How to Integrate Proprietary Data Methods for DEI Excellence Featuring Diana File

Diana File founded DF Analytics to instill rigor and accountability in DEI efforts worldwide. As a research and organizational psychologist, she has devoted 15 years to refining her proprietary data science methodologies, driving impactful results for Fortune 500 corporations, startups, government agencies, nonprofit institutions, and small businesses globally.

Diana leverages data science to enable companies to cultivate highly diverse and inclusive teams that excel in productivity, collaboration, and profitability. Her proprietary analytical methods reveal the underlying neuroscientific factors that determine success or failure. She then translates these assessments into actionable strategies, leading cross-functional implementation throughout the organization. This comprehensive approach ensures companies remain at the forefront of the evolving generational and cultural landscapes affecting both employees and customers.

As a former consultant for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Diana has redefined decision-making processes within complex hierarchies and has led pioneering global research on fostering the resolution of intractable conflicts. Her breadth of expertise encompasses workforce analytics, team development, project management, organizational effectiveness, conflict resolution, and research on best practices.

Diana is a sought-after workshop leader and keynote speaker, contributing to prestigious institutions such as Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Columbia University School of Professional Studies, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, National Libraries of Medicine, HR Leadership Forum, and various industry associations.

She earned her B.A. in Psychology, graduating cum laude from Yale University, and holds an M.A. in Psychology from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Diana is proficient in English, Hebrew, and Russian.

In today’s episode of Smashing the Plateau, you will learn from Diana File how to bring accountability to DEI efforts using data science.**

Diana and I discuss:

  • Her journey from a child immigrant facing intolerance to a DEI leader [00:47]
  • How Diana’s personal mission shaped her career path [01:31]
  • The importance of addressing systemic inequities through organizational psychology [01:59]
  • Her groundbreaking research in trauma recovery and conflict resolution [02:19]
  • The birth of DF Analytics and its mission [03:37]
  • The pivotal year of 2020 for DEI and how that shaped her business [05:18]
  • Why certain industries like healthcare, technology, and financial services focus on DEI [07:14]
  • How Diana uses her coaching approach to build business relationships [08:50]
  • Overcoming the fear of rejection in business development [12:32]
  • The business model behind DF Analytics and working with a diversified team of consultants [16:37]

Learn more about Diana at and

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How to Leverage Writing into Business Success Beyond Law Featuring Erica Holthausen

Erica Holthausen is the founder of Catchline Communications, where she provides consultants with essential tools to develop and share a body of work that enhances their authority, boosts their visibility, and creates new opportunities. Leveraging her background as a freelance writer and editor, Erica assists her clients in selecting topics, pitching ideas, composing articles, and securing publication in prominent industry trade journals and business magazines, such as Harvard Business Review, Inc., and Entrepreneur.

In this episode, Erica and I discuss:

  • Her unexpected career transition from law to communications [00:00:54]
  • The role of mentorship in her professional development [00:06:18]
  • Erica’s advice on asking questions and being open to help [00:07:47]
  • Overcoming doubt and the power of trusting oneself [00:10:03]
  • The evolution of her business, Catch Line Communications [00:15:41]
  • How she pivoted her services to meet the consultants’ needs [00:15:58]
  • The creation of her group program and the upcoming community [00:17:34]
  • The importance of community for entrepreneurs [00:20:11]
  • One actionable step for corporate refugees moving towards entrepreneurship [00:22:59]

Learn more about Erica at Catchline Communications at and connect with her on LinkedIn.

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How to Launch a Successful Design Agency After a Corporate Career Featuring Andre De La Cruz

Andre de la Cruz is a UX and Product Design professional with 15 years of experience. After losing his job last July, Andre co-founded an agency called Rally, which specializes in Brand, UX, and Product. He established the agency with two seasoned professionals in Brand and Product, along with a team of senior talent. Rally offers startups flexible monthly access to their team of senior designers and product managers through a subscription service. Prior to founding Rally, Andre spent the last five years at early and growth-stage startups, building and leading design teams, and collaborating with product and executive leadership to develop new products from inception to launch (0→1) and to evolve version one (v1) products into a more mature, polished, and professional state.

In today’s episode of Smashing the Plateau, Andre shares insights on making the bold move from a stable full-time job to creating and managing a successful design agency.

Andre and I discuss:

  • His career progression and the decision to start an agency [00:01:00]
  • The experience of leading design teams at startups [00:02:00]
  • The journey of founding Rally with his partners [00:04:00]
  • Shaping and adapting agency business models for market demand [00:10:00]
  • Diversifying into the software industry [00:12:00]
  • The pivotal role of community and networking in entrepreneurship [00:17:00]
  • Tips for aspiring entrepreneurs considering their own venture [00:21:00]

Learn more about Andre at

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