Image source here
Jessie Funk is bursting with talent; not only can she sing, dance, and do Disney character impressions that’ll knock your socks off, but she’s also a gifted motivational speaker. Jessie has been teaching and mentoring students for over a decade. She loves to speak at middle school and high school assemblies, leadership conferences and student events. She is the Executive Director of the Non-Profit organization, Ivy Girl Academy, and, as a professional singer, she has released five albums. She has authored six books, one of which Familius released just this year—The Lost Art of Ladyhood. We’re grateful for her time, her sense of humor, and her invaluable insights.
Tell us a little about your family.
I grew up with two brothers and my dad (after my parents divorced when I was thirteen). I am happily married now and have two delicious kiddos.
What first got you involved in helping teen girls?
I just struggled so much as a teen but discovered my leadership skills through being a camp counselor in ninth grade. I wanted to feel like I was helping girls like me who needed TLC! My non-profit organization, Ivy Girl Academy (which is what my book is based on) was born after I felt some awesome divine guidance in that direction.
What were some of the experiences you faced as a teen that shaped you?
I was bullied relentlessly by girls in junior high. They made fun of my singing so I started to hide my talent and just "fit in." Because these girls made me so miserable, I felt out of control and as an attempt to gain control back, I started bullying other girls. I was so mean and heartless, and it hurts so much more to look back remember being the bully rather than the times I was bullied. That is a huge part of my purpose in speaking in schools across the country: to identify why kids bully. Most of the time it's because we want power or control. If we can teach kids that there are other healthier, even fun ways to get that control, bullying decreases.
Why is bringing "ladyhood" back so important to you?
My grandmother was practically perfect in every way! She was always classy and confident. She and Audrey Hepburn are my heroes because of their sophistication and elegance. Girls who wear tight, revealing clothes to get attention from boys, or do drugs to feel like they belong, or have sex to get love are more often than not really trying to find themselves. I know this because I was one of those girls who tried to please everyone in order to feel valuable. When we can teach girls that their worth is always in-tact from the moment they start breathing, and that they don't need anything this world has to offer in order to be valuable—that is where their foundation of confidence can begin. It must start there, though—with confidence. Our beautiful future mothers must know that beauty, worth, and happiness are a choice they need to make in their own minds first. Then they have to exercise that belief like a muscle to make it stronger. From there, they can build a beautiful life. But if that basic belief in their worth isn't there, they will go looking for it in all the wrong places. Ladyhood encompasses that idea to me and that's why I want to reclaim what it means to be a lady.
What are 3 of your favorite tips you share with girls to help them be successful?
1) Confidence is a muscle; exercise it and it will get stronger. 2) Gratitude is a muscle; exercise it by focusing on the positive things in your life and you will attract positive things to you. 3) If you want to feel pure joy and know for certain that you are valuable and powerful in this world, serve someone who truly needs help.
You've become a role model for girls across the country. Who was your role model growing up? Why?
I had many role models. My grandmother that I mentioned above, and Audrey Hepburn. I've read every book and seen every movie about her and have studied her life—a wonderful role model for classiness! Benjamin Franklin is my favorite hero. He's not a lady, but I have always felt very inspired by how he lived his life with class and dignity.
I have also been disappointed by a few role models, and that has been very influential to me. There have been people in my world who I really looked up to, and then they changed and started making interesting choices. By watching them and honoring how I felt about their choices, I have had the opportunity to solidly decide that I do not want to disappoint anyone who might look up to me. It's hard sometimes because I'm so far from perfect; I am so outspoken, very opinionated, I'm totally sassy and sarcastic and sometimes I don't make very good choices. But, regardless of those imperfections, I sincerely want to be a good role model, and I really try to think before I speak or post something on Facebook or make a decision that might influence my "ivy girls."
What are some other ways you're helping girls? Organizations? Projects?
We are so excited for 2015 at the Ivy Girl Academy. We are getting ready to launch a one-on-one mentoring program in January where girls will get over the phone or in-person mentoring for twelve weeks where we follow the "12 levels of ladyhood" (those are the chapters in the book). We are also launching a year-long, online mentoring program where any girl, anywhere in the world can join our cause. Lastly, we are planning workshops in Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Idaho and Utah. We have a very exciting year ahead and we don't want any girl to miss out. If they want to be the first to know what's coming, join our email list on the front page of our website: ivygirlacademy.com
Oh, and I am also doing a lot more speaking in junior high's and high schools all over the country—even in Toronto, Canada next April! I will be bringing copies of my books along!
Thank you so much, Jessie! Order her book The Lost Art of Ladyhood here.